New York Apartments

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MassTech) is accepting letters of interest from operators of public and affordable housing to upgrade broadband infrastructure in the properties. Over $21 million is available and will be awarded to service providers to do the upgrades to qualifying properties.

The program, known as the Residential Internet Retrofit Program, was funded through the federal Capital Projects Fund. Massachusetts is receiving $175 million under the program, a large portion of which will be used for the Broadband Infrastructure Gap Networks Grants Program, a program that will cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to locations that currently lack high-speed service.

Recipients will be required to provide symmetrical 100 Mbps service. A MassTech press release explained that the program would impact 22,000 units in 500 housing developments across the state.

“A substantial portion of public housing buildings are more than 50 years old. Low-income families in these buildings face barriers to accessing the speeds offered by broadband service if the wiring in their apartments pre-dates the internet age,” MBI Director Michael Baldino said in the press release.

“The Retrofit Program will lead the charge to engage with property managers and then to engage internet service providers, who will work together to build out cutting-edge infrastructure that fully connects public and affordable housing units to high-speed internet.”

The program, which represents 12% of the Massachusetts CPF allocation, is prefaced on continuance of the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program’s $30 per month broadband subsidy for low-income families. That program, however, is winding down pending new funding from Congress.

Massachusetts is not the only state using CPF funding to bring broadband to public and affordable housing. At least three others — Hawaii, Nevada and New York – also are doing so.

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