MBI Program Updates

'Internet for All' Stakeholder Engagement Launches with Working Group in the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is preparing for a transformational, once-in-a-generation opportunity to close the digital divide with the support of federal funding supplied by both the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan Act.

In Massachusetts, broadband is available to 98% of people, ranking 5th in the U.S. However, there is still work to be done to close remaining gaps, address affordability, and expand access to internet-connected devices and digital literacy training. The Executive Office of Economic Development and Mass Broadband Institute will implement and oversee all broadband and digital equity initiatives, including development of statewide digital equity plans.

This month, the Broadband and Digital Equity Working Group launched to guide and advise our statewide planning efforts for the Digital Equity Statewide Plan and the Five-Year Action Plan for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. These plans will provide a framework for the investment of more than $100 million in federal funding and we will be seeking extensive stakeholder engagement and input in the coming months.

The Working Group is composed of leaders from across Massachusetts to offer specific topic area expertise and represent target populations as defined by federal funding guidelines and MBI’s programs. At its first meeting, the group discussed the current state of Broadband and Digital Equity in the Commonwealth and pressing concerns such as funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, ensuring inclusive stakeholder engagement and how to measure success.

The Broadband and Digital Equity Working Group will convene regularly in 2023. A list of working group members can be found here.

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New Local Capacity Building Opportunity for Digital Equity

We are excited to announce the American Connection Corps (ACC) is coming to Massachusetts! ACC is the nation's largest fellowship program focused on bridging the digital divide. A division of Lead for America, the ACC fellowship is a boots-on-the-group approach to expanding broadband access and digital inclusion. 

MBI and Comcast have committed to covering the full costs of 15 fellows to ensure a broad range of organizations that can take advantage of this program.

  • If you are interested in hosting an ACC Fellow, host site applications are now being accepted by Lead for America.

  • If you know someone who might be interested in the opportunity to develop professional skills and advance digital equity initiatives at the local level, they can apply for the fellowship now.

Interested in learning more? Listen to existing ACC fellows speak to the benefits of the program by visiting our program page.

Questions? Contact Cheryl Coss, Manager for Equity, Outreach, and Engagement at ccoss@masstech.org.

Host Site Applications

Apply Here

Fellowship Applications

Apply Here

Municipal Digital Equity Planning Underway - 35 Municipalities Enrolled

Since launching the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program in November 2022, MBI has approved 35 municipalities. Enrolled municipalities partner with a professional consultant to complete their first-ever Digital Equity plans! This program is funded by MBI and municipalities incur no cost to participate. Digital Equity planning is a critical first step to prepare for federal Digital Equity capacity funding planned for states through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Huge congrats to the following cities and towns for elevating the importance of this issue and leading the charge on digital inclusion.

Gateway Cities: Brockton, Holyoke, Leominster, Lynn, New Bedford, Peabody, Pittsfield, Quincy

Northern Berkshire County Sub-region collaboration: Adams, Cheshire, Florida, Lanesborough, North Adams

Southern Berkshire County Sub-region collaboration: Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Sheffield, Stockbridge, West Stockbridge

All other approved municipalities: Charlton, Clarksburg, Dalton, East Bridgewater, Easthampton, Fairhaven, Montague, Phillipston, Randolph, Royalston, Somerville, Templeton, Wareham, Watertown, Whately, Wilbraham

MBI is accepting applications for the Municipal Digital Equity Planning program on a rolling basis to ensure municipal leaders and staff have access to the resources and expertise needed to develop actionable solutions to bridge the digital divide. Check out our FAQ page.

Municipalities can learn more about the program and apply by following the link below.

Apply Now

Federal Programs

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Broadband Mapping Challenges Continue

The FCC maintains the National Broadband Map to track broadband serviceable locations as well as broadband availability in every state. These maps are important because they identify areas in need and inform funding eligibility and decisions. The FCC maps are a work in progress and crowd sourced information is important to identifying missing locations and inaccurate service information. MBI has and will continue to submit challenges, but encourages all stakeholders in the Commonwealth - government entities, community organizations and individuals - to review addresses in the FCC map and submit challenges. Local knowledge and input is vital to improving the accuracy of the FCC’s maps over time.

Find out how to use the FCC’s National Broadband Map and submit location and broadband availability challenges. Map challenges are reviewed and have resulted in significant changes to the data included.

If you have questions, please contact MBI at broadband@masstech.org.

How to Submit

NTIA Requests Input on Future Funding Streams from the Digital Equity Act

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, manages the $2.75 billion for Digital Equity Act programs nationwide. NTIA has opened a listening and Request for Comment period to hear from stakeholders involved with digital equity work and other interested parties.

MBI encourages partners and affiliates to submit comments to the NTIA, which are due on May 1, 2023, 5 p.m. EDT.

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