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State Funding Helps Berkshire County Town Connect to Broadband

Many small communities in Western Massachusetts are still without access to high-speed internet. But today, one small Berkshire town is linking up and will be able to provide its residents and town government with broadband service. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

With the support of a $40,000 grant from the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, or MBI, and the use of a fire tower on Lenox Mountain, residents in the small town of Tyringham will now for the first time be able to access broadband internet. Town Administrator Molly Cutrin-Schaeffer says that before today, the town of Tyringham was sometimes simply unable to do business because of a dial-up only internet connection.

The MBI, an organization under the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, partnered with local internet service provider WiSpring to install a tower in town, which allows households to connect to wireless service. Founder of WiSpring Crispin Tresp.

The MBI is in the process of installing the MassBroadband 123 fiber-optic throughout Western Massachusetts, but the so-called “middle-mile” of the project  of setting up the network’s fiber optic backbone, will not be completed until the Spring of 2013. MBI Director Judy Dumont says however, that linking up small towns like Tyringham to any sort of high-speed internet is a necessary step towards delivering the next-generation fiber optic signal in the future.

State Senator Benjamin Downing attended the event to see the small town finally link-in to the service many take for granted. He was glad to see the digital-divide closed in one more rural Berkshire community.

State Representative Williams "Smitty" Pignatelli also joined the Senator in welcoming the service.

Nate Winstanley, president of Winstanley Partners, a marketing and design firm in nearby Lenox, said that for any business, especially now in the Berkshires, access to the internet is critically important.

Winstanley also predicted that the future of the Berkshire economy will rely more heavily on employers and employees from larger metropolitan areas moving to the Berkshires to do business remotely.

And Dr. Jason McCandless, superintendent of Lee Public Schools, said that the service will provide many of the district’s students will be able to join their classmates with access to online instruction and tools.

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