|Money Sought For Study on Possible Pittsfield Broadband Network|
|Staff Reports, |
01:07AM / Monday, April 22, 2019
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city wants to know if it could become an internet service provider.
State Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouiver and Paul Mark have filed a budget amendment calling for "not less than $75,000 be allocated for the purpose of a feasibility study" to determine if the city can and should become an internet service provider. The amendment came at the request from Mayor Linda Tyer.
"This is in response to the demand we know is out there for broadband and quite frankly we are tired of waiting for the utilities and the cable companies to move on this issue," Tyer said.
"If we want to be competitive in a global economy, broadband is going to vital to that. It is vital for the William Stanley Business Park. It is important for businesses downtown. We're going to see if we can taker this on ourselves."
Municipal broadband systems have been taking hold in Western Massachusetts recently. The community-owned internet service is eyed to bolster speeds and decrease pricing in areas that are underserved by the utility companies.
The study, if approved, would examine if there is a market and an interest for the city to develop its own service. Tyer referred said the city has the possibility to become the "hub" for the entire county's high-speed internet service.
"We want to conduct a feasibility study to see if we can be the broadband, internet service provider," Tyer said.
The mayor noted Westfield as an example of such a system, and said city officials have been in communication with that service to gain insight. The Westfield network is expanding through partnerships with some 20 neighboring towns.
The study is only the first step and has yet to be approved in the state's budget. But, eventually, if feasible, the idea would be that the city builds out the high-speed internet network. The ultimate goal is to have enough subscribers to support the network's operations.
Currently, Pittsfield is mostly served by Spectrum but the relationship between the cable and internet provided and the city and state have been tenuous.