New England Eyes Recovery Funds

Massachusetts wants in on some of the broadband stimulus money in the Recovery Act.

The city of Boston has asked for $15 million in stimulus funding to support a new Boston Broadband Network, according to local reports. The city wants to boost access in underserved areas, develop public computing centers, and put in place a sustainable development program for broadband.

Boston has applied for the money under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) scheme, which is expected to pay out up to up to $1.6 billion in this first round of funding. The application process for grants or loans closes today with an extension until the 24th for late documents associated with a bid. (See Recovery Problems and Recovery Act: Bids Come In.) New York and Philadelphia are also expected to apply for stimulus money in this round. Most of the funds, however, are expected to go for rural projects in this first tranche. (See Recovery Act: Big Apple Expects Little Bite.) West Barnstable, Mass.-based nonprofit group Open Cape, meanwhile, said Thursday that it has applied for a $40 million federal grant to build an open access network that serves Cape Cod, the Islands, and southeastern Massachusetts. The group estimates that the project will provide more than 200 jobs in the equipment, construction and manufacturing sectors, as well as an additional 200 in "indirect jobs."

Open Cape is working with RCN Metro Optical Networks and Barnstable County to deploy more than 300 miles of fiber optics with a microwave wireless backhaul network, and a regional collocation data center. The "middle mile" network will connect towns and schools across the region, emergency evacuation centers, and libraries, as well as providing service to homes and businesses.

The project would provide connectivity for all of the towns in Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket Counties. In addition, 11 towns and cities of Plymouth County are included in the service area. "Together, these towns contain approximately 321,204 households representing approximately 515,648 individuals, as well as 62,129 businesses," Open Cape says.

In addition, OpenCape plans to build connections to the Internet in Providence, R.I., along the South Coast, and to Boston through Plymouth and Brockton. These connections will be needed to connect OpenCape’s middle-mile capacity to the Internet backbone.

Approved stimulus applications are expected to be announced (and possibly contested) this November.

— Dan "Captain America" Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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