Governor leads the way to universal high speed access in Massachusetts

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has been a strong advocate for universal high speed internet access since before he was elected. Now he has begun to come through on his promises.

Gov. Patrick unveiled a plan this week that would invest $25 million into a program dedicated to bringing high speed internet access to underserved parts of the state:

Department of Telecommunications and Cable Commissioner Sharon E. Gillet called the fund a "targeted public investment," which will be capitalized by bonds and managed by a new Massachusetts Technology Collaborative division called the Broadband Institute.

The division will ask private companies to compete for the state money and may put out a request for broadband infrastructure proposals as early as December. Money will be awarded to the proposals that bring the most infrastructure, like conduits, fiber and wireless towers, into unserved areas.

They key here is cooperation between the state government and the private sector. Only with a concerted, joint effort will there be sufficient resources and incentives to bring high speed internet to the 32 towns in Massachusetts with no high speed internet service, and the 63 that have limited access.

The governor's plan was a hit with residents of rural Massachusetts:

When asked whether the initiative would make a difference, town resident Kathy Hayn Burtt said, "Oh, you have no idea. Dial-up is so awful that most of us don't even use our computers here."

Robert Gorden, a town resident, doesn't believe in ATM machines or cell phones. "But even a luddite like me can see that this is important for everyone in the county," he said.

It also went over well with the major press in the commonwealth. A Boston Herald editorial praised the proposal, highlighting the economic benefits it will bring to Massachusetts:

High-speed Internet is a prerequisite for anyone trying to launch a small business from home - or to stay connected to their company in this era of globe-trotting freelancers.

And why on earth would a business want to locate in a region where its employees can’t even download a song from iTunes at home in their free time!

With his commitment to high speed internet, Governor Deval Patrick is leading Massachusetts into the future. Hopefully the rest of the states will follow.

Governor Patrick Reiterates His Commitment to High Speed Internet Accessibility (Speed Matters)

Patrick trumpets Internet initiative (Berkshire Eagle)

Speed a wise investment (Boston Herald)