Tuesday September 4, 2012

By Scott Stafford, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Rural Berkshire County residents yearning for high-speed Internet access where none exists may have reason to hope.

WiredWest officials are work ing toward a fully install ed and functioning fiber optic broadband network, consisting of more than 2,000 miles of cable, throughout its 39 to 43 member towns by the end of 2014.

Nat Karns, director of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, said WiredWest has a realistic shot at achieving their goal.

"There are some very knowledgeable folks working with WiredWest with the technical, financial and business background, a strong professional mix that really makes a difference," Karns said. "And I think it is crucial for 21st century economic development, education and health care services."

According to Monica Webb, chair of the WiredWest executive committee, 39 Western Massachusetts towns in Berkshire, Hampden, Franklin and Hampshire counties have already joined the municipal cooperative that will allow the organization to apply for grants and issue bonds.

The WiredWest cooperative was officially formed just over a year ago, in August 2011. Since then, it has mapped out a plan for moving forward.

Support cards are being distributed to residents of member towns to determine how many customers are likely to seek broadband services from WiredWest. For those who wish, their support can also be registered at