Latest reports say that Charter Communications®, who are offering their cheap internet plans as Spectrum®, will serve three more towns of Berkshire County. The cable provider is trying to shift their focus to the western areas among the talks to decrease the broadband gap. They have recently added Peru, Becket, and Tyringham as the communities that they are planning to serve and are in the negotiations with the Massachusetts Broadband Institute, which is the state agency aiming to introduce high-speed internet service to 41 towns.
The Massachusetts Broadband Institute is offering monetary incentives to the internet service providers to offer their broadband internet services to the rural communities that were long neglected. It is reported that those towns, which accept the proposal of Comcast® or Charter®, will get broadband internet services without the need to pay local taxpayer charges. In contrast, those towns that are planning to build their own internet service networks will need to cover for about two third of the total costs.
“These free opportunities should be recognized,” said Peter Larkin, who is the chairman of the MBI board. Larkin urged the select boards in the different towns that are pursued by the cable providers to meet with their representatives and to consider their offers. “Hopefully, the select board would vote — and they should have a conversation with the whole town,” Larkin said.
Sean Cronin, who is another member of the MBI board, said that the offers from the private internet providers and the state are attractive. “I hope as many communities take advantage of this as possible,” he said. Timothy J. Connelly, who is the executive director of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative said, “I think it would be terrific if some of these towns move forward with the no-cost option.”
Carolyn Kirk, who is the deputy secretary for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, said that the state decided to help the underserved communities act via public comments and a forum. “We’re trying to make it as easy as possible, but there will be accountability built in,” she said. “What we need to be about now is speed.”
Only the proposals from Comcast® and Charter® have won the approval of MBI so far. The institute has announced that they have qualified the proposal of Comcast® to serve four communities, but none of them is located in the Berkshire County. Unlike the proposal from Charter®, Comcast® does not have any issues in bringing their network to any town that accepts their proposal.