EAST SANDWICH, Mass. /Massachusetts Newswire/ — Governor Deval Patrick today joined state and local leaders on Cape Cod to celebrate a $32 million federal award received by the regional non-profit OpenCape Corporation through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).
This award will be combined with $8 million in state and regional funding for a $40 million investment in the region. OpenCape’s project will create over 400 jobs, fostering economic development and long-term regional growth.

“This is terrific news for the Cape. We are grateful to the Obama Administration and our Congressional delegation for supporting this critical economic development initiative for the Cape,” said Governor Patrick. “In addition to supporting the important work OpenCape and its partners are doing to bring new economic opportunity to the Cape and the Islands, we are re-doubling our efforts to deliver high-speed Internet connectivity to thousands of individuals and businesses in western Massachusetts. We will not stop until every region of the state has the building blocks in place to compete in the 21st century economy.”

Southeastern Massachusetts has a different set of needs than those of rural areas, such as western Massachusetts, or major metropolitan areas, such as Boston. It has some minimal services that are not available in rural areas, but it does not have the robust telecommunications infrastructure it needs to support the economic, educational, public safety and governmental needs of the region.

With this federal award, OpenCape will provide critical middle-mile capacity for the Cape Cod region by building a 350-mile fiber-optic backbone, wireless microwave network and regional data center. This open-access broadband network will create opportunities for jobs, economic diversification and regional efficiencies in government, and will connect over 60 anchor institutions – including schools, libraries, colleges, heath centers and public safety facilities – on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. It will also enable last-mile providers to reach underserved residents, allow health care facilities to meet complex networking and archiving needs, and create emergency redundancy in the hurricane-vulnerable region.

“This is a gigantic shot in the arm for the Cape and an excellent example of the Recovery Act in action,” said Senator Kerry. “I’ve been a broken record for years about universal broadband and this is part of getting to that goal. Our community and our congressional delegation came together to construct a model proposal for a regional broadband initiative with widespread benefits and I sent multiple letters of support for the project. I’m very grateful to Secretary Locke and his team for their hard work. On the Cape, too many people still don’t have access to broadband service, the network requires redundant services to provide for public safety, and our community college and research institution needs have lagged behind due to a lack of capacity or high cost. This investment will make high-quality service available across the Cape, make us more competitive, help create jobs and boost our economy.”

“This project will literally bring hundreds of real jobs directly to southeastern Massachusetts through its construction and operation, while boosting our economy and providing expansion opportunities to Woods Hole, and our schools and business that have been held back by infrastructure limitations in the region,” said Congressman William Delahunt. “OpenCape is an essential element of the future economic development of our region and will lay an important foundation for job creation for years to come.”

“This is great news for economic development for South Coast communities like Fall River, as well as the Cape,” Rep. McGovern said. “Access to cutting-edge communications technology is absolutely essential for us to compete in the global 21st Century economy.”

“This project is yet another example of how the Recovery Act is providing near term stimulus coupled with a vision towards the future by providing the region with an improved telecommunication infrastructure that will reap many long-term economic benefits,” said Congressman Barney Frank.

“The Internet is now a necessary and critical component of everyday life. This funding will expand and improve access to broadband, making our public institutions and public safety networks more efficient, while making our businesses more competitive and creating jobs for the region,” Congressman Stephen F. Lynch said. “I am pleased to see stimulus funds being used for the OpenCape broadband initiative.”

“This is particularly good news because it means we can advance the goal of broadband access that I have been working on with Open Cape for quite awhile,” Senate President Therese Murray said. “This funding will promote a fundamental technology that will be a tremendous asset to our educational institutions, economy and communities.”

OpenCape, under the leadership of Dan Gallagher, Chief Information Officer at Cape Cod Community College, is a non-profit entity and community-driven regional advocate for the improvement of broadband infrastructure on Cape Cod and the Islands.

“OpenCape is the product of tremendous collaboration that included critical funding commitments and advocacy from Governor Patrick and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute,” said Gallagher. “It’s a vital part of the region’s long-term growth and competitiveness strategy, and we are excited to have assembled all of the necessary funding to immediately begin building the OpenCape network.”

“This federal award will help OpenCape build a regional network that supports innovation and cutting-edge research, leading to new economic opportunities and enhanced public safety for the entire region,” said Judy Dumont, Director of the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI). “The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s John Adams Innovation Institute and the MBI both provided long-term support to OpenCape, and we congratulate the entire OpenCape team on winning this federal award. Deploying broadband in underserved areas in western Massachusetts and the Cape is a mission of economic justice and fundamental fairness that addresses a critical need for individuals who have been forced to go without for far too long. The MBI’s mission continues as we work to close the digital divide from Provincetown to Pittsfield.”

“As elected officials, we need to help communities help each other, and by linking them through the OpenCape broadband expansion project it will be possible to do that across the Cape and southeastern MA,” said Senator Robert O’Leary. “This project literally bringing this area of the state up to speed and these improvements will provide for streamlining and increased collaboration between local governments, better access for small businesses and better service for all of our constituents. With the Governor’s, Legislature’s and our Federal representatives’ support, these funds have become available and I am proud of the work we have done to reinvest in our communities here on the Cape and throughout southeastern Massachusetts.”

“This is very good news. These broadband services are vital to the growth of our excellent institutions in Woods Hole. We find that fast and dependable access to technology via the internet has become essential to continue the important research being done at these institutions. In today’s world, everyone needs good access to the internet,” said Representative Timothy R. Madden.

“This OpenCape project is arguably the single most important tool for job growth and development that the Cape has seen in decades. It is a success story born of a collaboration of local, state, and federal officials and agencies and private institutions. I look forward to seeing the build out and the economic growth that will follow,” said Representative Sarah Peake.

“It’s an extremely important communications tool for small business and economic development on Cape Cod,” said Representative Cleon H. Turner.