For Sandisfield, MA, population 893, and one of the last towns lacking high-speed internet in Berkshire County, a plan to build a network that will bring broadband to 96 percent of homes and businesses is underway. The town Select Board voted unanimously last month to accept a proposal from Charter Communications, according to the Berkshire Eagle.
Charter Communications is asking for $2.6 million from the town and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) to design and build the network, which it would own, operate and maintain.
The MBI would pay Charter the town’s $1.23 million share of Last Mile grant money, then cover 40 percent of the funding gap, equaling $551,000. The town then would owe $827,000, plus interest, all to be deducted from annual state aid until after the network is fully completed and operating, over a ten or 15-year period, reported the Eagle.
Peter Larkin, chairman of the MBI board, said, “We understand and appreciate the urgency in Sandisfield to move broadband forward, so we immediately forwarded Charter’s proposal to the Town as it was a serious proposal from an approved provider.”
After struggling to find a broadband solution over the past several years, George Riley, a Select Board member, notes that Charter is the town’s only hope. “This town is not going to grow if we don’t have broadband internet. No young professionals will move here — no one is going to move here,” he said.
June 11, 2019