Virtual Western Mass forum on community broadband shows many towns and cities are exploring municipal networks

Monday a number of local leaders participated in a virtual forum on municipal networks. Two members of the Northampton City Council attended: Bill Dwight (councilor at large) and Gina-Louise Sciarra (councilor at large, council president and mayoral candidate). You can watch the video below:

Participants also included representatives from Holyoke, Agawam, West Springfield and Springfield. Industry representatives also attended, including two representatives from Whip City Fiber, which is constructing a municipal network in Westfield, as well as in a number of hilltowns. Representatives from OmniPoint and FiberSonic also attended. These companies have built or are building municipal networks in Western Massachusetts.

It was quite interesting with a robust discussion of the benefits and pitfalls of building municipal networks. The general sense from attendees is that municipal networks are necessary because robust access to the Internet is now required, and needs to be accessible to all. Both councilors Dwight and Sciarra offered important input and asked probing questions. The pros and cons 5G wireless technology were discussed at length. The consensus seems to be that fiber to the home is needed, and that it won’t be provided by our incumbent Internet service providers.

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