THE MEETING BETWEEN State Representative Paul Mark, the Hawley Selectboard, the Communications Committee and a group of Hawley residents that took place at the Town Office on November 19 was highly productive. After hearing a joint presentation on Communications Committee activities vis a vis Broadband by Lark Thwing and Rick Kean, Representative Mark focused his attention on two areas:
1.) The need for the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) to become more flexible in its requirements for a hybrid fiber-wireless network, regarding:
• system download and upload speeds; and,
• “ubiquity” in Broadband deployment.
2.) The request for Supplemental Funding by the “List of 18,” a group of Western Massachusetts Towns that are carrying an inordinately heavy burden of the costs of Broadband buildout and deployment under the current MBI plan. Twelve signed Letters of Support from participating Town Selectboards were presented to Mr. Mark at the meeting, plus a status update on the remaining six.
Rep. Mark acknowledged the need for fexibility and indicated he would stay vigilent on the matter. He also said he thought the request for Supplemental Funding was justifiable and politically viable, in that the “List of 18” represents the most aggrieved Towns.
Rep. Mark said he would support the Supplemental Funding request in the legislature, and will be organizing a meeting between representatives of the Towns, and their five State Senators and Representatives, in mid-January to develop that proposal and insert it into the Commonwealth’s budgeting process.
“I live in Peru, MA,” he said. “We have nothing there. I’m the only representative in the State Assembly with no local cell phone or high-speed Internet.”
“When it comes to Hawley’s need for Broadband, I ‘get’ it,” Rep. Mark concluded.