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MassBroadband 123 PDF Print E-mail

by Julie Farrell

Julie Farrell

MSLA Legislation Chairperson
Overlook Middle School, Ashburnham

MassBroadband 123 is an initiative by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to bridge the digital divide in Massachusetts. Many cities and towns in Massachusetts do not have access to broadband, a high speed fiber optic network for Internet access.  MassBroadband 123 will bridge the digital divide by creating a 1,300 mile fiber optic network to bring broadband to 123 underserved cities and towns in Massachusetts.

MassBroadband 123 will connect up to 1,400  public safety facilities, schools, libraries, (school libraries!!), community colleges, hospitals and town halls. These facilities are identified as community anchor institutions (CAI). This project is considered a “middle-mile” project; to create a backbone of fiber optic network throughout the north central and western part of the state.

Benefits  Many benefits are associated with broadband connectivity: economic, healthcare ; public safety and education. Access to reliable high speed Internet will benefit commercial growth to enable communications services similar to those found in large urban environments. Healthcare sectors will benefit by the possibility of remote consultation and electronic health records. Municipalities and public safety agencies will benefit by support of cross agency communications and simplified access to community services. Educational institutions will benefit by enhanced distance learning opportunities and virtual classes.

School Libraries  Public schools within the project area will be designated as community anchor institutions and eligible for broadband access. I am currently employed as a school librarian at Overlook Middle  School in Ashburnham, Massachusetts. Our school has 600 students and 67 staff members.

The diagram below is a chart of a day in life of our network activity:




This is a snapshot of one day’s network activity. Overlook Middle School’s network is at or above capacity on most weekdays from 9:45 a.m. through 11:30 a.m.

Our school has access to Discovery Education which is an online library of educational media. Many of our teachers use this resource in their instruction and stream videos during their classes. Added to that network load, are teachers streaming CNN and YouTube videos.  Creating more of a bottleneck in connectivity are the library resources which I access for my classes. As more and more electronic resources add more and more multimedia features, this bottleneck will worsen. Broadband can help alleviate this situation.

What you can do  Access the Massachusetts Broadband Institute website to determine if your community is included. Contact your community representative to ensure that your school and thus your school library are included as an anchor institution. MassBroadband 123 is a project that is expected to take thirty-six months to complete. It would be in our best interest, as librarians, to stay informed of this initiative.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 01 January 2011 )

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