Stop-Gap HotSpots Bring Small Cell-Delivered WiFi to Rural Berkshires

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Increased broadband usage due to stay-at-home orders and COVID-19 has exposed gaps in connectivity in rural Massachusetts. The Berkshire Eagle reported the state’s broadband partners have developed a temporary solution: 14 new WiFi hotspots with a signal delivered by small cells.

The hotspots will be employed until September 1, using the state-owned MassBroadband 123 fiber-optic network, according to the Eagle. The project involves the Massachusetts Broadband Institute in partnership with KCST, which manages the “middle mile” network owned by the state, and internet service providers at the local level.  

The hotspot WiFi is offered free of charge, 24/7, and runs at 250 Mbps. According to Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, people working and studying remotely, as well as those attempting to use telehealth services, need fast internet. The WiFi zones are “a temporary step to fill these gaps,” she added.

Some hotspots are already available, with more being launched on a “rolling basis,” according to Polito. All fourteen hotspots are expected to be live by early May. A list of active hotspots is available via broadband.masstech.org/wifi.

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