Construction Complete on 1,200-Mile Fiber Backbone in Rural Massachusetts

  • MassBroadband 123
  • Massachusetts Technology Collaborative
  • Tilson Technologies
WESTBOROUGH, MA – The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MBI) recently completed construction and testing of MassBroadband 123, a 1,200-mile fiber-optic network bringing high-speed Internet access directly to 1,200 key facilities in more than 120 western and central Massachusetts communities. MassBroadband 123 is a critical component of the Commonwealth’s strategy to invest in innovation infrastructure in order to create growth and economic opportunity in every corner of the Commonwealth.

"Providing every city and town of the Commonwealth with reliable and affordable high-speed Internet is necessary in order to compete in the 21st century global economy," said Governor Patrick. "We have made significant strides toward achieving that goal, and I am thrilled that we are in the final stretch in delivering broadband access to all of our residents."

All segments of the new network have been turned over to the MBI’s network operator, Axia NGNetworks USA (Axia). Many community facilities are already using the MassBroadband 123 network, with hundreds more expected to come online over the next several months.

“Axia is excited to now take the lead on working directly with local service providers to connect key Community Anchor Institutions to the network. We’re thrilled to be a part of providing affordable high-speed broadband across the state,” said Art Price, CEO of Axia NetMedia.

Benefits of this new network include:

  • Creation of a robust regional fiber backbone, providing a platform that can lower the barriers for businesses, institutions, and neighborhoods seeking high-speed Internet access;

  • Opportunities to enhance school curriculums, providing access to virtual field trips, online content such as videos or podcasts, and the opportunities to learn and use digital technologies such as websites, wikis and blogs;

  • Greater bandwidth in libraries so that they can meet the increasing digital needs of local residents, including job searching, assisting with resume writing, computer skills training, serving as a video conferencing hub, and teaching digital literacy to the elderly and disabled; and

  • Improved and enhanced communications by police and fire departments internally, across departments, and with the public; providing reliable, fast access to the state Criminal Information database; and helping departments prepare for next generation 911, which will allow reports to come in via voice, text, email and even videos of an emergency situation.

“We’re grateful to all our partners for their engagement, counsel, and support over the past three years, including the administration, the legislature, community groups, and local leaders,” said Phil Holahan, interim director of the MBI. “This coalition has been able to construct a much more robust solution than we ever anticipated, presenting a platform for future expansion and economic opportunity.”

The Patrick Administration and the Legislature created the Massachusetts Broadband Institute as a division within the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative in the Broadband Act of 2008, providing $40 million in state bond funds. In 2010, $45.4 million in federal stimulus funding was awarded to the Massachusetts Broadband Institute at MassTech through the highly-competitive second round of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The MassBroadband 123 network has been developed through industry collaborations, including network operator Axia NGNetworks USA, network builder G4S, and owner’s project manager Tilson Technologies.

As the MassBroadband 123 fiber-optic network connects these critical community institutions, the MBI is partnering with state officials and western Massachusetts communities to develop public-private solutions that bring broadband access to more homes and businesses in Western Massachusetts. In 2013, Governor Patrick filed IT bond legislation that contains $40 million in new funding for the MBI to develop last-mile solutions that bring broadband connectivity directly to homes and businesses in western and central Massachusetts communities.



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