Lederman Rallying State, Federal Funds to Expand Internet Access, Affordability
Springfield City Council President Jesse Lederman sent a letter Tuesday to the offices of Governor Maura Healey and the Federal Legislative Delegation, including Congressman Richard Neal, and U.S. Senators Ed Markey & Elizabeth Warren, urging prioritization of funds to support the development of a municipal fiber Internet network in the City of Springfield.
“The Internet has become an essential utility for families and businesses, and people are tired of being nickel and dimed when it comes to Internet access. Springfield residents and businesses deserve options when it comes to their internet service,” said Council President Lederman, “A municipal Internet network would put the public in the driver seat when it comes to ensuring affordable and capable Internet access.”
In his letter to state and federal leaders, Council President Lederman urged specific consideration for support to make the concept a reality in Springfield as a matter of equity.
“In Springfield, recent studies show 54% of households lack access to reliable Internet service. This disparity puts our community at a huge disadvantage as more and more resources and opportunities move online,” said Council President Lederman, “Suburban communities like Westfield, South Hadley, and Chicopee have already begun investing in municipal internet service and are providing better service at a lower cost than what is available to our community.”
“This is the infrastructure of the future and we can’t afford to be left behind,” said Council President Lederman.
Council President Lederman has been working to lay the groundwork for a municipal Internet option since 2020, when he made headlines calling out Comcast/Xfinity for their plan to impose data caps on customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lederman led a coalition of local elected officials to pass City Council resolutions in Springfield, West Springfield, and Holyoke in opposition to the data cap and in favor of exploring alternative Internet options.
In 2021, Council President Lederman brought the same coalition together to host a Virtual Forum on municipal Internet with industry experts, and called for the city to conduct a feasibility study to assess different options for future investment.
In 2023, Council President Lederman announced the creation of a Working Group on Digital Equity & Internet Access to develop a digital equity plan for the city.
“As the state and federal government continue to consider expenditure of pandemic recovery and infrastructure dollars, now is the time to be advocating for this investment. It’s vital to ensure we remain competitive economically, educationally, and technologically,” said Council President Lederman.