WiredWest, a group formed by several municipalities in western Massachusetts, has applied for a state grant to help finance the connection of an open access fiber-to-the-home network to another statewide middle-mile open access network that is already under construction, reports the Berkshire Eagle, a local media outlet.

WiredWest is seeking $500,000 from the Community Innovation Challenge Grant program,  a new initiative administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance, the report states. The group plans to use the money to finance the creation and issuance of municipal bonds to pay for construction of a network connection to the MassBroadband 123 Network, a 1,338-mile broadband network in western and north central Massachusetts scheduled for completion in mid-2013.

The MassBroadband 123 Network is being constructed at a total cost of $71.6 million—including $45.4 million from the broadband stimulus program and $26.2 million from the state of Massachusetts.

Twenty-eight municipalities in western Massachusetts have signed a cooperative agreement to join WiredWest and 15 additional communities have partially completed the approval process to join the group, according to the Berkshire Eagle report. That process requires two-thirds of voters to approve the plan to join the group at two separate meetings.

As Telecompetitor previously reported, participating communities are voting to create a municipal lighting plant (MLP), which is essentially a new town department with authorization to provide the town with telecom services, and to join a cooperative of MLPs for the same purpose.  Communities involved were motivated to pursue this approach because of limited availability of broadband services from traditional providers.

WiredWest expects to know by next month whether its grant application was approved, the Berkshite Eagle report states.

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