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Connecticut Cities Crowdsource Gigabit Nets

Jason Meyers
9/15/2014

Representatives of state and local government in Connecticut have formed an alliance designed to attract investment in gigabit networks throughout their state.

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor and Stamford Mayor David Martin -- along with state Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford), state Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz -- issued a joint RFQ to entities that might be interested in forming public/private partnerships or pursuing other avenues for creating Gigabit Cities in Connecticut, a state which currently has none.

The initiative is open to any and all municipalities in Connecticut to submit an addendum describing their town’s interest and assets to become part of the group, in hopes that more interest from more cities will translate into more interest from potential network partners.

"It's any telecom company, ISP, financier -- anyone who's interested in working with these cities to develop networks in their communities or on a regional basis," says Katz, who as consumer counsel heads a non-partisan state agency responsible for consumer advocacy.


Get the latest updates on the Gigabit Cities trend by visiting Light Reading's broadband/FTTx content channel.


The group modeled its approach after one taken by the city of Louisville, Ky., Katz says. "We're taking pieces from everything that works, but we think this is unique -- the first group that's said anyone in the state can join us."

Many US states have laws in place prohibiting municipal involvement in building and operating broadband infrastructure, but Connecticut is not one of them. On the contrary, Katz says, the state has favorable regulatory fees for pole attachments that make network construction appealing to a wide range of providers. (See Muni Utilities Take Gigabit Fight to FCC, Wheeler Urges More Broadband Competition and The Municipal Menace?)

The City of New Haven will administer and coordinate the RFQ. The group is expecting a wide variety of interest, including from incumbent telecom and cable operators that will respond to the clear demand from businesses and residents of the regions, Katz says.

"We hope to work with them, and we'll be talking with all of them," she says. "We do expect some pretty robust response."

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Utility Communications/IoT, Light Reading

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danielcawrey
danielcawrey
9/16/2014 | 7:02:30 PM
Re: Showing them the money
As long as there is favorable regulations in place to make this happen, then there is a possibility that this will work. I wish more states would try to do this, it creates competition and can offer customers a better price overall for services. 
brooks7
brooks7
9/16/2014 | 12:54:00 PM
Re: Showing them the money
Kbode,

You mistakenly put AT&T assets to Frontier.  It was Verizon and that was not the only sale of assets.  They also sold a large number of lines to Fairpoint.  Verizon has been very clear that they want to dump all non-FiOS properties.  AT&T's model has been to do nothing even though they said that they would hit 100% broadband under the deal to buy BellSouth.  Definitions are tricky with that one as they included satellite broadband as counting.  Between that and Project Pronto, I think the FCC trying to include deal conditions on mergers is a failure.

seven

 
jabailo
jabailo
9/16/2014 | 10:52:15 AM
Re: Showing them the money
I've been on Clear Wimax since 2007.   While it started off sketchy, for most of the time it's delivered 5-6Mpbs.  The ping rate (~50ms) isn't absolute gaming quality, but anything below 100ms is ok.     The biggest bandwidth hogging by me is running Netflix, and at this point, I have no lags when doing so with Clear.

Instead of just raising the maximum "up to" speeds, I wish someone would guarantee minimal speeds.    So, they would guarantee 5Mbps per user, always with no throttling even if I watched 12 Netflix a day, every day.  And have ping times guaranteed to be below 10ms (or for whatever you want to pay for).

As it is now, if I want guaranteed minimum speeds and maximum ping, there is no one to purchase this from (well, I guess if I leased a T-1 line...but even then would they guarantee it?)

 
KBode
KBode
9/16/2014 | 10:35:42 AM
Re: Showing them the money
CenturyLink's 1 Gbps deployment is more marketing than substance at this point, and their 40 Mbps deployment is pretty limited as well. Most CenturyLink users are still luck to get 6 Mbps downstream -- and if I recall correctly they have usage caps ranging from 150 to 250 GB. Not exactly screaming cutting edge in the 1 Gbps era.

In Connecticut AT&T simply didn't care about the market, and refused to upgrade speeds. That left people with the choice of just their cable provider if they wanted anything even close to cutting edge speeds. 
thebulk
thebulk
9/16/2014 | 10:28:34 AM
Re: Showing them the money
In some areas I would say the ROI is going to be too long and they might never see it, but there are many cases like you point out KBode where they just do not have the patience for it. 
jabailo
jabailo
9/16/2014 | 10:21:28 AM
Re: Showing them the money
CenturyLink the local telco provider just started Gig service in a few areas around Seattle.  Here in the nearby suburbs they offer 40Mbps.  Not sure why it requires any "special effort" in Connecticut, a state with some of the wealthiest people in the country.  (Unless, it's because the houses are so big and widely spaced it would be hard for them to make money off such a network!!)

 

 
KBode
KBode
9/16/2014 | 9:38:48 AM
Re: Showing them the money
AT&T clearly didn't want to invest in their fixed-line assets in the state (as made clear by the sale of all assets to Frontier), and Comcast took full advantage of AT&T's total lack of interest (less competition than ever before) and desire to exit stage left. This is happening in a LOT of states as AT&T and Verizon back away from fixed-line networks they don't have the patience to wait for investment returns for.
thebulk
thebulk
9/16/2014 | 1:53:28 AM
Re: Showing them the money
I think its been clear for a while that many areas want or need faster connections to the internet, these types of projects just reflect that desire. 
jasonmeyers
jasonmeyers
9/15/2014 | 5:50:32 PM
Showing them the money
Municipal efforts like this seem to be screaming for the attention of incumbent providers to invest in gigabit networks. In this case the group did a "listening tour" to measure the interest of residents, businesses and other organizations -- some of which participated in the event announcing the RFQ, including digital media trading startup MediaCrossing in Stamford, the provost of the University of Connecticut, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (JAX) in Farmington, and GigU executive director (and longtime telecom regulatory figure) Blair Levin. 
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