Southern Berkshire Technology Committee Bringing Broadband to Life
  • May
    4

    Go to Wired West to find out the most current information on getting fiber to the home.

    Click here to find the Participating Towns  and the status of their vote to move forward.

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  • Nov
    23

    SBTC meetings are open to the public. The next meeting is Wednesday, January 13th, 2010, at 7pm, at RBC Wealth Management at 50 Castle Street in Great Barrington. Please advise us if you plan to attend, in case we need to postpone the meeting for weather reasons, at [email protected]

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  • Jun
    9

    Minutes
    Meeting of Southern Berkshire Technology Committee
    13 May 2009
    Great Barrington, Massachusetts

    A meeting of the Southern Berkshire Technology Committee was held on 13 May 2009 at
    the Town Hall, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, at 4:00 PM, as previously posted.
    Present were Charles Flynn (Chair), Tim Newman (Vice Chair), Bob O’Haver, Bob Lichter
    (Secretary), Jim Lovejoy, Michael Storch, Brian Killeen, and Paul O’Brien.

    The minutes of the meeting of 29 April 2009 were approved unanimously.

    Charlie Flynn agreed to continue as Chair of SBTC.

    Charlie Flynn reported on his participation in a meeting with legislators, school
    committee representatives, and the Commissioner of Education in Boston about
    consolidation of school districts as a cost‐saving measure. He noted that the discussion
    did not include the use of technology to facilitate this possibility, and pointed out that
    technology—and broadband in particular—is required for effective communication
    among widely separated schools. He felt that the idea generated some resonance, but
    noted also that budget constraints in future years required acting on building out
    broadband capabilities sooner rather than later.

    Charlie Flynn reported also that the Department of Education is starting an initiative to
    improve data collection and analysis for schools. He and Paul O’Brien suggested that the
    Lee and Southern Berkshire Regional School Districts collaborate to collect, store, and
    access data, and that this step, together with the value of broadband for businesses and
    local governments, could be a significant part of a proposal leading to build‐out of a
    broadband system in the region. It would also be useful to cooperate with other
    education‐related efforts, such as the Berkshire Compact for Higher Education and STEM
    Pipeline Network.

    Tim Newman reported on his exchange of correspondence with Sharon Gillett, the newly
    appointed Director of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. SBTC resolved to set as a
    priority the organization of a meeting with Gillett and the MBI before a proposal
    mechanism is established in order to help shape how the MBI’s efforts proceed. The
    Committee agreed that others, such as the Connects and certainly our local legislators,
    could be invited to participate, but the meeting would be organized and led by SBTC. At
    the same time, the Committee agreed that it needs to push ahead with developing the
    technical aspects of a plan, and to continue to put pressure on legislators for support.
    The status of the non‐disclosure agreements between the member towns and National
    Grid was discussed. Towns have to provide proof that the individual signing the
    document was authorized to do so. However, once the agreement with National Grid to
    provide pole data is in place, the Committee is in a position to approach Western
    Massachusetts Electric Co. With both utilities participating, engaging Verizon may be
    unnecessary, because the data will contain not only poles that the utilities own but also
    ones to which they are connected.
    As reported earlier, Charlie Flynn has been in contact with Rich Vinnette of the Lee
    Community Development Corporation, who in turn put him in contact with Rhonda
    Serre of Mass Development, about providing assistance in developing a proposal. Charlie
    will meet with her about this. The Committee noted that although it must continue to
    remain in communication with MBI and the political leadership, the plan will go forward
    with or without them.

    The Committee also agreed that inviting Lee, Stockbridge, and West Stockbridge to join
    SBTC is desirable. Bob Lichter will inform Charlie Flynn of the name of the West
    Stockbridge contact with whom the Alford Broadband Committee had worked.
    The Committee discussed the other components of the Berkshire Regional Planning
    Commission grant to SBTC. Charlie will contact Sarah Lavallee to get the status of its
    efforts on reviewing town bylaws and permitting procedures to identify and minimize
    barriers, perhaps also developing a template for use by all towns.
    Jim Lovejoy discussed Mount Washington’s plans to develop its own broadband effort.
    Because of the unique topographical and geographical features and opportunities there,
    the Committee agreed that the town’s efforts and possible success could serve as a
    model for what the rest of the region could do, and pledged to support the town. SBTC
    would serve as a conduit about the results to the Commonwealth.
    Bob Lichter reported that Alford had approved $1,500 for the SBTC. Sandisfield has also
    approved the $1,500 appropriation, as reported by John Burrows by e‐mail.
    After further discussion and review, the Committee agreed on the following action items:

    • Continue contacts with MBI and Gillett to arrange a meeting by 15 June; Tim Newman will continue to take the lead.
    • Continue obtaining more technical information; Jim Lovejoy will take the lead.
    • Continue the pole mapping and permitting examination.
    • Designate Mount Washington’s efforts as a template for SBTC.
    • Initiate working with MassDevelopment for proposal planning.
    • Invite Lee, Stockbridge, and West Stockbridge to join SBTC.
    • Send a thank‐you letter to Tony Blair for his assistance.

    The next SBTC meeting will be scheduled after the status of a meeting with Sharon Gillett
    is known.
    The meeting adjourned at 5:10 PM.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Robert L. Lichter
    Secretary

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  • Apr
    30

     

    A meeting of the Southern Berkshire Technology Committee was held on 29 April 2009 at the Town Hall, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, at 4:00 PM, as previously posted. Present were Charles Flynn (Chair), Tim Newman (Vice Chair), Bob O’Haver, Rob Rocke, Monica Webb, Robert Lichter, Jim Lovejoy, Michael Storch, Brian Killeen, Paul O’Brien, and Lee Glazerman.

    Tim Newman and Bob Lichter reported on the meeting on Monday, 27 April, in Northampton, organized by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute to make Western Massachusetts Public safety officers aware of the Broadband Stimulus legislation. There seems to be some uncertainly about the MBI’s proposal strategy, whether it will comprise a series of individual proposals or one statewide proposal. Guidelines for proposal submission are anticipated in July, with first awards in September, followed rapidly by two more rounds through June 2010. MBI Program Director, Donna Baron, was optimistic that with the appointment of the yet-to-be-announced Director, Sharon Gillett, MBI would move faster toward clarifying its procedures. After discussion, the Committee agreed that Sharon Gillett’s appointment was a positive step and that arranging quickly for a working meeting with her and Donna Baron was important. The purpose would be to get a commitment that SBTC will be part of the conversation about the practical pathways for building out a broadband backbone

    The Committee then discussed the proposal to restructure as a not-for-profit organization. The purpose of such an organization, the creation of a business plan for it, and its role in the MBI process were discussed, along with the attendant challenges for a volunteer organization. After further discussion, the Committee agreed to defer formation of a not-for-profit organization and continue the focus on obtaining pole locations as an important component of its goal of getting “fiber on the poles.” This is important whether or not the SBTC participates with the MBI in developing a proposal or prepares one independently. The Committee also acknowledged the importance of identifying the unique needs of each community in the SBTC region.

    The decision to go forward with the request for $1,500.00 from each town was discussed.  It was determined that how to approach this would be at the discretion of each town representative. However, the committee agreed that this money would not be needed in the near term.

    Robert Lichter, Alford, volunteered for and was elected Secretary.
     After further discussion, the Committee agreed on the following:

    • Incorporation as a not-for-profit will be deferred.
    • Tim Newman will request a meeting of SBTC representatives with Sharon Gillett and others of her choice for a working session that will help the Committee formulate its planning, preferably in collaboration with MBI.
    • Charlie Flynn will contact Mass Development for possible assistance n writing proposals. He will also continue conversations with Lee contacts about the possibility that Lee will join SBTC.
    • Work will be accelerated to develop a business plan/prospectus for articulating SBTC’s goals.
    • Jim Lovejoy will contact an engineering firm to explore getting an estimate of costs for developing an engineering plan.
    • Structured discussions with representatives of member towns to clarify SBTC’s current status, future needs, and how it will achieve its goals, will be arranged.

    The next meeting is tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, 13 May, at 4:00 PM in the Great Barrington Town Hall.

    The meeting adjourned at 5:45

    Respectfully submitted,

    Robert L. Lichter
    Secretary
     

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  • Jan
    6

     

    Hello everyone.  Below is the announcement that Bob Lichter distributed throughout Alford announcing our meeting there tomorrow evening.  I do not anticipate that we will reschedule due to weather as it appears the storm will be or almost be over.  However, I will keep a close eye on things and should there be a problem I will e-mail everyone as well as call WSBS.  I will also give Julie Scott from Alford a heads up so she can e-mail the Alford residents.
     
    Hope to see a good turn out tomorrow evening.
     
    Discussion topics are:
     
    1.  Grant request to the BRPC (We all owe a major debt of gratitude to Tony Blair).
    2.  National Grid GIS Data request and non disclosure agreements.
    3.  Identify areas of concentration and sub committees to begin the template development to work through many and varied issues that may arise in communities as vendors begin to approach towns.
     
    Charlie
     
    The next monthly meeting of the Southern Berkshire Technology Committee (SBTC) will take place on Wednesday, January 7, 2009, at 7 PM at the Alford Town Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

    Consisting of representatives of 11 member South County towns (Alford, Egremont, Great Barrington, Lee, Monterey, Mt. Washington, New Marlborough, Otis, Sandisfield, Sheffield, and Tyringham), the SBTC is a community-led group that was formed to expedite the deployment of modern broadband infrastructure to local rural communities. The SBTC believes that broadband access is an absolute requirement for economic development, education, communications, health and safety, and quality of life in our towns – and that its deployment is the contemporary equivalent of rural electrification and telephone initiatives of the past. The group includes representatives from the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce and broadband committees that were formed in towns across our region to address the discrimination against rural communities with regard to high-speed Internet access. The members of the Committee represent a cross-section of our communities: technology experts, professionals, educators, small business owners, retirees, families and concerned citizens. Further information is available at http://southberkshiretech.org/.

    Please come to this open meeting, which will be a good opportunity for residents to ask questions and to learn about ongoing efforts to bring high-speed Internet capability to unserved areas of South County.

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