Oak Bluffs awarded grant for upgrading fiber network

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Oak Bluffs is the recipient of a state grant for fiber optics. — Brian Dowd

Oak Bluffs has been awarded $133,875 for “the creation of a new municipal fiber network.” On Thursday, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, chair of the Community Compact Cabinet program, announced the 86 Massachusetts municipalities and school districts that are set to receive a combined $13 million, as part of a grant program designed to assist “cities, towns, and school districts make upgrades, strengthen their municipal networks, and more efficiently manage IT infrastructure,” according to a State House News Service (SHNS) report. 

“Given the rapidly changing landscape of information technology and the infrastructure required to support it, these inaugural municipal fiber grants will make a significant impact on local communities and governments in better serving their residents,” Polito said in the SHNS report. 

The funds come from the Community Compact Cabinet Municipal Fiber grant program, which Gov. Charlie Baker said is “the latest example of our administration’s commitment to partnering with cities and towns to better serve residents, and we are proud to support their efforts to strengthen their municipal networks,” according to SHNS.

On the importance of upgrading Massachusetts towns’ fiber network, Baker said, “The delivery of government services, from public safety response to data security, is increasingly reliant upon strong and cohesive internet infrastructure.” 

According to the distribution regulations, recipients must contribute a local match of 5 percent, which for Oak Bluffs amounts to $6,694.

Oak Bluffs town administrator Deborah Potter detailed how the funds will be managed in an email to The Times: “Our plans are to create the initial fiber/broadband network for the town between the Town Hall and the Marina, with the intent that the fiber/broadband service be scalable so additional areas can be added in the future to address other interests of the town, such as primary or redundant access for remote work, enhanced security, reduction of costs, and other potential benefits as technology and demands rapidly change.”