Support Broadband Initiative in Hilltowns

David Kulp of Ashfield, MA writes:

Some of you may be lucky enough to be reading this email using high-speed internet via DSL or cable.  Others like myself reluctantly pay high rates for satellite internet and must deal with a truly awful service that is slow, unreliable, and severely limited.  Others refuse to pay high prices for inferior service and still use dial-up, or take their laptop to the library or coffee shop to get real work done.

The lack of real broadband connectivity is a serious impediment to many of us in the hilltowns.  There are several initiatives to address different parts of the problem, but I want to bring your attention to a grassroots effort to just fix it!  As a community, let’s build a modern, fiber-optic network throughout the region to deliver wicked fast internet, HDTV, telephone… and lots of other cool stuff.

I have recently become involved in this effort, which is now called WiredWest.  The website is at http://wired-west.net/ with lots of information about broadband, our needs, its impact on communities, why we want to build a fiber optic network, and what are our values behind this (these include transparency, self-sufficiency, local control, and affordability!).  I hope many of you in the hilltowns can take a look at the website and get excited about this project.  Almost 50 towns in western Massachusetts will be voting at their annual town meetings this spring to support this broadband project.

I currently have the task of stirring up local involvement in every town, so here’s what I need from you:

  • If you live in Cummington, Windsor, Washington, Blanford, Russell, or Toland, I need your help now!  If you live in one of these towns and you don’t have broadband or are otherwise interested to help, please contact me ASAP.  These towns currently have no local support for this effort, but all it usually takes is one person to move it forward in your town.  Seriously, send me an email and we’ll go from there, but time is running out.
  • If you live in Huntington and don’t have access to broadband, we need to talk.  The state (of Massachusetts) thinks you’re all set.  My suspicion is that that’s not the case.
  • If you live in Savoy and would like to help, please contact me.  We’re stalled in your town.
  • If you live elsewhere in the WiredWest region (see map of participating towns on the website) and are frustrated by your slow dialup or you just want to create a world class broadband network that’s locally owned and run — where the money is returned back to the towns and not siphoned off by Comcast and Verizon, please email me.  I’ll connect you with others in your town who are already involved and you can work together to support this idea when it comes up for vote at your annual town meeting this spring.  This is true democracy in action.

If all this just sounds incredibly cool to you for whatever reason, enter your email on the homepage at http://wired-west.net/ to be added to our mailing list.  You’ll get news on progress and requests for help as the project moves from a vision into reality.

If you have a unique skill (pro bono) or gift in kind that you think we might want to use — be it technical, multi-media, legal, government, organizing, marketing, printing, etc. — whatever you can do, send me an email to discuss.

(If you sign up on the list or volunteer even if you already have high-speed internet then you get extra karma points!  Not having broadband is a big motivator (take me, for example!).  But once you get broadband, it’s hard to remember all the have-nots.)Thanks for your help!
David Kulp
dkulp@dizz.org

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