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The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) has rolled out its Municipal Digital Equity Planning program, which provides an opportunity for cities and towns to access free consultant services to undertake digital equity planning work on a municipal or multi-town/regional basis.

According to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, “Digital equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy and economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning and access to essential services.”

Details
Current Projects

Municipal Digital Equity Plans

Funding for the Digital Municipal Equity Plans was provided by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) at the Mass Tech Collaborative under the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program. Funding was provided by the Massachusetts ARPA State Fiscal Recovery Funds. Plans are in various stages of development. Final plans will be made available below.

  • Town of Montague – final plan (PDF, 1.3MB)
  • City of Greenfield – draft plan is available for public comment
  • Regional (includes the eight 8 towns of Charlemont, Colrain, Leyden, New Salem, Northfield, Orange, Warwick, and Wendell)
  • Town of Whately
  • Town of Leverett & Shutesbury (the towns are in the early stages of the planning process)
  • Town of Gill (the town will be hosting a planning charrette)
Map of Franklin County highlighting the communities participating in digital equity planning services via the FRCOG.
Participating communities in digital equity planning through the FRCOG. Blue towns are building individual plans, green and brown towns are working together on regional plans.

Municipal Digital Equity Implementation Program

Municipalities that have completed a Digital Equity Plan, Digital Equity Planning Charrette, or have a pre-existing local digital equity plan or related document, are eligible to access a one-time grant up to $100,000 per municipality to execute a project (or projects) defined in their plan. The purpose of the funding is to enable municipalities who need funding to mobilize, start-up, and implement digital equity activities locally. More information is available on the MBI’s Municipal Digital Equity Implementation Program webpage.

Statewide Projects

Massachusetts BEAD Challenge Process

Massachusetts has been awarded $147 million under the federal Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. BEAD projects are designed to provide fiber connectivity directly to the end user (last mile), including unserved, underserved, and Community Anchor Institutes. The Mass Broadband Institute BEAD Challenge Process will provide the state the opportunity to verify the eligibility of locations the at unserved or underserved.

Check back on this page for future BEAD Challenge updates for Franklin County.

MBI Residential Retrofit Program

The Residential Retrofit Program is to deploy state of the art broadband infrastructure at approximately 22,000 Public & Affordable Housing properties across Massachusetts.

Gap Networks Grant Program

The $145 million Gap Networks Grant Program will fund the deployment of broadband infrastructure in areas that currently lack broadband service. The Program aims to expand access and connectivity in unserved and underserved locations throughout the Commonwealth to bridge the digital divide. Specifically, the Program will fund the deployment of broadband infrastructure in those areas that currently lack access to sufficient broadband internet service, defined as service offering download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 20 Mbps.

Staff
Jessica Atwood, Director of Planning

Jessica Atwood

She/her
Director of Planning

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Ted Harvey

Ted Harvey

He/him
Senior Economic Development Planner

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Nicole Krantz

Nicole Krantz

Planning and Digital Equity Intern

X209

Resources

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