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Federal Grant Will Improve Internet Access In Western Mass.

Massachusetts will receive nearly $50 million from the federal government to improve broadband service in the western part of the state.

The money will be used to bring high-speed Internet access to more than 100 under-served or even unconnected towns in western Massachusetts.

Sen. John Kerry explained that the low population of parts of western Massachusetts has made it more expensive for private companies connect high-speed Internet there — leaving many of those areas lagging with slow or patchy connections.

"It's a big deal. You got a lot of folks who are struggling now in business or education, otherwise," Kerry said. "And this is really going to create modern communications capacity in all our state."

The improvement, Kerry added, could have a direct effect on the state economy. "This is the kind of thing that's going to create jobs," Kerry said. "It jumpstarts activity."

The grant will be used to construct a "middle mile" network with more than 1,100 miles of new fiber that will connect nearly 1,400 "anchors," including town halls, police and fire stations, hospitals, libraries and schools.

That, in turn, will make it more economically viable for the private sector to come in and connect homes and businesses.

Michael Garfield-Wright, who lives in Buckland and runs an energy bar-distribution company, says he's looking forward to doing business with more reliable Internet service.

"I'm dealing with the lead buyers of some huge companies, and the ability to communicate is really important," he said.

This program aired on July 2, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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