Berkshire Eagle – February 4, 2017
By Larry Parnass & Patricia LeBoeuf
Nearly 10 years ago, Gov. Deval Patrick came to Becket with a promise of information-age equity: broadband internet service across Western Massachusetts. By 2011, he said.
And yet the “digital divide” persists.
Closing the broadband gap in rural areas not served by private companies has already taken longer than the nation’s quest to put a man on the moon. The presidency of Barack Obama came and went with the goal of near-universal broadband service unrealized. …
Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has studied the issue nationally from his base in Minnesota.
Governments can and should build their own broadband networks, he said.
“Getting high-quality internet is not the first time we’ve done this. We electrified the entire country and did it in a fiscally responsible manner,” he said.
Rather than start with a middle mile, Mitchell thinks Massachusetts should have fostered last-mile connections with alternative ways of connecting to distant trunk lines on the internet. And when it comes to local town networks, he believes people should think of what’s best locally.
“Do you want that money [for service] going to Philadelphia or staying in your community?” he asked.