Mount Washington gets $230K grant to deliver broadband access

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MOUNT WASHINGTON — The town has won a $230,000 grant from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to support the construction of a fiber-to-home network that will deliver broadband access to the residents of this town.

At this point, according to town officials, more than 60 percent of the residents of the smallest town in Massachusetts have committed to subscribing to the service. There are a total of about 150 residents in town.

Selectman Chairman James Lovejoy said the grant, "speaks to the commitment [of the state administration] to develop high-speed internet in unserved areas of the state."

Anticipated capital expenditures for the project are expected to be about $700,000. Last May, voters approved transferring $250,000 from the town's Stabilization Fund, and authorized borrowing up to $450,000 over a 20-year period to cover the costs.

The town has also collected a total of $29,950 form its pre-subscription campaign, according to Brian Noyes, a spokesman for MBI. In addition to the grant, the MBI also supplied Mount Washington with a $5,000 Broadband Planning Assistance grant in 2015, according to Eagle files.

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Peter Larkin, board chairman of the Massachusetts Broadband Initiative and special adviser to the Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Last Mile Broadband Project, applauded the town for a "well-crafted plan" that will provide the community with a municipally owned fiber network.

The town has opted to design, construct and operate its own network. To that end, it issued a Request For Proposals in January for construction of the network. In May, the town hired NextGen Telecom Services Group of Rochester, N.H., to undertake the construction.

Under the terms of the agreement with NextGen, the town will own the network. Town officials will have to issue a separate Request For Proposals to hire a network operator and internet service provider.

Construction is expected to be completed by mid- to late-2017, Noyes said.

The town will manage and own the system without the use of a Municipal Light Plant, a municipal structure for oversight of the overall system. Instead, town officials will take over any management and oversight responsibilities.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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