Grant to provide broadband access to rural towns

December 28, 2019 GMT

WESTFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts utility has received more than $10 million in federal funding to expand fiber-optic broadband internet access to thousands of households in rural western parts of the state.

Westfield Gas & Electric will receive the funding over the next decade and distribute it to participating towns. The goal is to provide speeds of 1 gigabit per second to about 12,400 households in 20 communities.

The utility worked with the administration of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute and the state’s congressional delegation to secure the funds through the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction.

“Our administration has been making significant progress towards the goal of delivering broadband access to the unserved and underserved residents in rural Massachusetts,” Baker said in a statement.

“In today’s America, broadband equals opportunity, innovation, and job creation,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Senator Edward Markey said in a statement.

The participating communities are Alford, Ashfield, Blandford, Becket, Charlemont, Chesterfield, Colrain, Cummington, Goshen, Heath, Leyden, New Ashford, New Salem, Otis, Plainfield, Rowe, Shutesbury, Washington, Wendell and Windsor.