- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Officials say a project to bring high-speed Internet access to public safety facilities, town halls, schools and hospitals in rural areas of central and western Massachusetts has been completed.

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative announced Tuesday that construction and testing of a 1,200-mile fiber-optic network has been completed.

Facilities in more than 120 towns are connected.

The project was financed by state money and a $45 million federal stimulus grant.

The move is designed to boost the economy, education and public safety.

State officials say completing the so-called backbone network will make it more economically viable for the private sector to come in and connect homes and businesses.

Gov. Deval Patrick says reliable and affordable high-speed Internet is necessary to compete in the global economy.

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