The Thurman town board voted to go forward with their embattled 'white space' broadband project Tuesday Jan. 14 after a crowd packed the town hall to experience a live broadcast of the wireless internet access technology. State Sen. Betty Little made a visit to the town meeting, telling the crowd how ‘white space’ wireless broadband was the leading practical option to connect the rural town’s households with the Internet, which she said was vital to citizens’ health, safety, education and prosperity. Also present was State Assemblyman Dan Stec who said businesses were 'dead in the water' without such broadband access. The 'white space' project had been in jeopardy lately due to a campaign to scuttle it — because of contentious local politics and oppositiion from critics who claimed the technology wasn't viable.
Photo by Thom Randall.
ATHOL After a crowd in the Thurman Town Hall heard local citizens talk on a video-conferencing broadcast how “white space” wireless broadband would enhance their lives — and listened to encouragement from two state politicians — the Thurman Town Board voted 4-1 to proceed with their embattled project to bring high-speed Internet into nearly a third of the households in this rural, hilly community.
The project had been in thrust into jeopardy in recent weeks due to new personnel on the Thurman Town Board, including Mike Eddy who had spoken out against the white space project.
This showdown of white-space critics and broadband project proponents featured presentations by state Sen. Betty Little and state Assemblyman Dan Stec, who had procured a $200,000+ state grant to fund the broadband project, a public-private partnership. The event also featured a live demonstration of the technology.
Voting for the project, which has garnered national attention, were Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood and town board members Leon Galusha, Gail Seaman and newly-elected councilman Dan Smith. Abstaining from the vote was Michael Eddy, who for months had questioned the project’s viability.
The positive vote evoked cheers and applause from the audience, who earlier had watched a demonstration of white-space technology. They experienced a wireless video-conference broadcast from an off-the-grid cabin belonging to Eric Lohrey, an architectural engineer. In this live broadcast, Lohrey talked of the how white-space broadband would allow him to pursue his career more effectively from his remote rural setting. He was joined by Shiela Flanagan of Nettle Meadow Farm, who spoke of how the white-space wireless would allow her to expand her rural business — producing cheese that’s nationally acclaimed.
State Sen. Betty Little told the crowd of how Thurman’s pilot project would serve as an example of how broadband could be brought to other rural, wooded remote communities across the state.