Mass. blesses 3 stimulus projects, none private

The Massachussetts governor’s office has endorsed three recipients to receive federal broadband stimulus funds. Though some of those efforts involve private partners, none of the three applications were filed by private companies.

As part of the federal program, state governments make recommendations on favored stimulus applications. The Mass. governor picked proposals from the city of Boston to serve 117,000 homes there, one for a 581-mile fiber ring in Western Massachussets planned by the Massachussetts Broadband Institute (a unit of the Mass. Technology Collaborative that the governor created last year), and one for an open community fiber network in Cape Cod called OpenCape, formed by a group of local stakeholders that lobbied for the governor’s support.

Though none of those three applications were made by private companies, the private sector would participate to some degree. For example, RCN Metro Optical Networks is the primary partner in building and running OpenCape’s network. And Richmond Networx (a subsidiary of Cornerstone Telephone) is seeking nearly $3.7 million to build a network management center for the Western Mass. fiber ring the state is proposing.

As first-round applicants near the naming of winners next month, public entities and public/private partnerships are expected to be major recipients of broadband stimulus funding.

“Lots of Twitter chatter, a couple of calls and several states’ announcements lead me to suspect much more stimulus money is going to government- and nonprofit-run broadband networks than people expect,” industry consultant Craig Settles said in an email today. “I include in this group public-private partnerships in which local or state governments are the dominant partner. Quite a few private-sector companies will be pretty disappointed.”

Recent comments from telecom industry exectives have echoed that tone, suggesting that some rural telcos of note are leaning toward not applying for the program’s second round.

Washington state’s governor has endorsed 10 applications for projects totalling $175 million.

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