Connecticut mayors make call for 1 Gig broadband open access network

Three Connecticut city mayors from New Haven, West Hartford and Stamford have come together in hopes of creating a 1 Gbps-capable open access fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network for the state.

In an announcement made yesterday by the Office of Connecticut's Consumer Counsel, New Haven Mayor Toni N. Harp, West Hartford Deputy Mayor Shari Cantor, Stamford Mayor David R. Martin and State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford), state Comptroller Kevin Lembo and Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz called for companies and organizations to develop gigabit-capable Internet networks in the three cities.

The three mayors issued what they called a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) asking for "information and dialogue with interested parties," which could include a mix of competitive providers, ILECs and cable operators.

New Haven will administer and coordinate the RFQ for the municipalities.

This RFQ has set three main goals: create a gigabit-capable network to serve "targeted" commercial corridors and residential areas that show "demonstrated demand" as a way to drive job creation and stimulate economic growth; provide either a free or a discounted 10-100 Mbps wireline or wireless service to underserved and disadvantaged residential areas across the territories and diverse demographics; and deliver gigabit Internet services at prices comparable to other U.S. communities that offer such products today.

What prompted Connecticut to explore a municipal broadband project was a conference on gigabit networks held by the Office of Consumer Counsel in April.

"As soon as we started the conversation about gig networks, we heard from businesses, universities, high-tech start-ups, mayors and first selectmen – really such a variety of stakeholders – about how greater Internet speeds at lower costs are essential to their functioning," Katz said in a West Hartford Patch article. "We knew it was an important economic development tool, but we've learned gig networks are also essential for medicine, precision manufacturing, education, e-government, many different people in different sectors clamoring for gig networks."

Connecticut's proposal drew the praise of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who has become an outspoken supporter of the municipal broadband movement.

"High-speed broadband is an essential asset for today's communities and tomorrow's economy," said Wheeler in a statement. "Too many Americans lack real choices for fast, affordable Internet service, which [is] why I'm heartened to see these leaders commit to bringing gigabit connectivity to the businesses and consumers of central Connecticut. Today's announcement will lead to more competitive choices for consumers and more innovation to create jobs and improve the lives across the region."

While these mayors' proposal is in its early stages, it will be interesting to see how Frontier Communications and AT&T (NYSE: T), the state's two largest telcos that mainly deliver copper-based DSL service today, will respond.

For more:
- West Hartford Patch has this article

Related articles:
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FCC petitioned by EPB in Tennessee to overturn municipal broadband ban
FCC's Wheeler challenges Tennessee's anti-municipal broadband laws
Lawrence, Kan., proposes building its own 1 Gbps-capable FTTH network
FCC's Wheeler wants to eliminate municipal broadband barriers

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