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Broadband news from this morning includes an article in the Boston Globe about a $45.4 million grant of federal stimulus money to help pay for a $71.6 million fiber optic “backbone” in Western Massachusetts. The cable will serve 123 municipalities and cover 1,000 miles.
However, the project won’t connect to individual homes. “The region’s approximately 333,000 homes and 44,000 businesses won’t get access immediately, however,” according to Globe writer Hiawatha Bray. “The state is counting on private Internet companies to plug into the backbone and to begin selling network services to private citizens.”
“This was always meant to be a public and private partnership,’’ said a state broadband official. “The stimulus money and state money don’t pay for the entire process, but it catalyzes the investment.’’
Meanwhile, in Texas, Stop The Cap! can’t quite believe the maps produced for the state showing that 97% of Texans already have broadband access, which is “quite a revelation to the scores of consumers who aren’t served by cable companies and cannot get DSL service from the phone company, even if the Broadband Map of Texas says they can.”
The map was produced by Connected Texas, a subsidiary of Connected Nation, which has come under criticism for being overly fond of cable and telephone companies.
Stop the Cap! argues that allowing existing cable and phone companies to draw the maps showing where broadband is needed will allow those incumbent firms to skew the debate over the spending of federal stimulus funds.
“In smaller communities in rural Texas, efforts by local entrepreneurs to launch needed local broadband services often meet fierce opposition from incumbent interests who declare communities already served, backed up with a map that shows coverage, and therefore should not be allowed to receive stimulus funding,” Stop the Cap! writes. “Often, objections from existing providers effectively disqualifies stimulus applicants and the result is a continued blockade for rural broadband.”