Monday, October 30, 2006

Bosley announces $300K grant for studying faster web access; hearings on broadband in Greenfield, Stockbridge

These two announcements was supplied October 30 by the office of state Rep. Daniel Bosley,
D-North Adams.

Below you will find two announcements from Berkshire Connect, Inc. & Pioneer Valley Connect. The first announcement is in regards to the recent award of $300,000 from the John Adams Innovation Institute of the Commonwealth's Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to BerkshireConnect and Pioneer Valley Connect to further their work exploring potential short- and long-term solutions to the problem of broadbandaccess in the region's underserved communities. The second announces a series of forums about broadband issues in Western Massachusetts. The first of these forums will be held on November 1, 2006 at the Greenfield Community College main campus.

October 20, 2006

"Connects Awarded John Adams Innovation Institute Grant
to Increase Broadband Availability in Western Massachusetts"

The leadership of Berkshire Connect, Inc. and Pioneer Valley Connect are pleased to announce a recent grant award from the John Adams Innovation Institute to further strategies to advance broadband into Western Massachusetts' underserved communities. The Innovation Institute, a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, supports technology-based economic development initiatives in the Commonwealth. A carefully developed collaborative proposal by the Connects has resulted in a two-year, $300,000 Regional Priority award for the Pioneer Valley and Berkshire Regions.

"This award represents the transformative economic development that Legislature supported when they created and funded the John Adams Innovation Institute," said Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D-North Adams), "Berkshire Connect and Pioneer Valley Connect have served as national models to bring Internet access to underserved communities. Now, through this grant award, they are seeking to leverage their success in this telecommunications area to bring broadband to our rural communities and wireless solutions to our hometowns and downtowns."

The joint award will allow the Connects to build upon previous work conducted to address the telecommunications needs of the region and to pursue short- and long-term solutions to increase broadband access to many underserved residents and businesses in the region that currently have little or no access to high speed internet. Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) said "This groundbreaking award will allow our ongoing regional broadband work to step up to a new level. The Berkshire and Pioneer Valley Connect organizations will now have the financial resources to test the best technologies for high speed telecommunications services for our rural and underserved communities, as well as involve the public in planning and implementing this critical economic development tool throughout western Massachusetts."

Senator Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) stated that "affordable and reliable broadband service will help rural communities compete in the high-tech economy. The Connects have never wavered in their pursuit of that goal and this grant is a reward for their efforts." The mission of the Connects is to create an advanced telecommunications landscape that will have affordable, reliable and redundant high capacity broadband services available throughout Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties. Both Connects have had successes in advancing telecommunications in the region, but significant challenges remain. One-third of the 101 communities in Western Massachusetts have no access to broadband, such as DSL or cable modem technologies. The Connects believe that T-1 offerings are too expensive as a substitute and satellite services do not represent a true broadband service. In many of the communities that have broadband access, it may only be available in limited areas. !
Broadband access for all communities of Western Massachusetts is essential in today's economy and is a necessary tool to support public health & safety, education, and government efficiency.

Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D.-Lenox) said "I am excited that the Commonwealth has recognized the need for access to broadband and other wireless technologies in Western Massachusetts and I am confident that Berkshire Connect and Pioneer Valley Connect will use this grant to continue to achieve success in realizing this goal."

This award will enable the Connects to pursue the following types of tasks:

1. Implement experimental approaches and beta test programs for the application of wireless technologies in three communities;

2. Conduct a series of broadband public forums;

3. Develop regional approaches and identify funding to implement a long-term solution; and

4. Develop a public-private organizational solution capable of overseeing the long-term management of assets.

For more information about the Connects, go to their websites at or

Contacts for information:
Berkshire Connect, Inc. - Donald Dubendorf, President; Sharon Ferry,
Business Manager, 413-496-9606

Pioneer Valley Connect - Linda Dunlavy, Steering Committee Co-Chair,
413-774-3167 x103; Jessica Atwood, Steering Committee Staff-Person, 413-774-1194 x101

October 20, 2006

"Broadband Forums Scheduled"

The leadership of Berkshire Connect, Inc. and Pioneer Valley Connect are pleased to announce an upcoming series of forums about broadband technologies, challenges and opportunities in Western Massachusetts. One of the greatest challenges for advancing economic development in the region is the limited access to high-speed internet. One-third of the municipalities in Western Massachusetts have no access to broadband, such as DSL or cable modem technologies. This lack of access also impacts education, public health & safety, government efficiency and more. These forums will discuss issues important to communities underserved in terms of broadband access. All of these forums are free to the public.

"I encourage all interested residents in the communities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire counties to attend these forums, especially if they have formed broadband committees to explore potential broadband and wireless solutions for their telecommunication needs," said State Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D-North Adams), co-chairman of the Legislature's Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. "These forums will provide communities with the economic context surrounding underserved communities' telecommunications needs and outline potential long-term solutions that marry technologies with infrastructure for the unique challenges that surround the cities and towns in Western Massachusetts."

Representative Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) stated that "Public participation is a vital part of bringing broadband and wireless service to every community in western Massachusetts. These forums will help us to better define the barriers and identify the best technical solutions to achieving our goal. I hope that local officials and interested citizens will participate in this important work to strengthen the social and economic fabric of our region and each of its communities."

"Access to broadband is a crucial issue to so many of us in the southern Berkshires and surrounding communities." said Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D.-Lenox) " I am contacted daily by individuals and professionals seeking the kind of access to wireless technologies that so many other areas of the Commonwealth already enjoy. Broadband access is critical to improving our local economy. I am committed to bringing these technologies to our area and I urge anyone who shares this interest to attend these forums."

The forum sessions planned are the following:

* Broadband 101 - These sessions will answer several important questions, such as "Why is broadband important," "What is broadband and why don't we have it," and "What can communities do?"

* Wednesday, November 1, 2006 from 7 pm - 9 pm at the Greenfield Community College Main Campus in Greenfield. Co-sponsored by the Connects and State Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg and State Representative Stephen Kulik.

* Wednesday, November 29, 2006 from 7 pm - 9 pm in the Hitchcock Room (2nd floor) of the Red Lion Inn, 30 Main Street, Stockbridge. Co-sponsored by the Connects and State Representative "Smitty" Pignatelli.

* The Underserved Communities Project - These sessions, co-sponsored by the Connects and the John Adams Innovation Institute, will include a presentation of the findings of the Underserved Communities Pilot Project and the next steps for developing a long-term solution to the problem of underserved communities. In addition, there will be a discussion of short-term solutions to the problem, and an announcement of an opportunity for three communities to participate in a beta test program of wireless technologies.

* Wednesday, December 13, 2006 from 7 pm - 9 pm in the Community Room of the JFK Middle School, 100 Bridge Road in the Florence section of Northampton.

* Thursday, January 11, 2007 from 7 pm - 9 pm at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, 375 Church Street, North Adams.

For more information:

Berkshire Connect, Inc. - Sharon Ferry, Business Manager, 413-496-9606, Pioneer Valley Connect - Jessica Atwood, Steering Committee
Staff-Person, 413-774-1194 x101,


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