Connecticut is making a push to become the nation’s first “gigabit state” after officials in 46 of its municipalities announced they would join together to facilitate the development of ultra-high-speed Internet networks in their communities.
The mayors of these towns issued a joint request for information seeking a dialogue with interested companies and developers that can bring the technology into their part of the state at a reduced cost to citizens, business owners and education institutions.
“The response from our state’s towns has been overwhelming,” Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz said in a release. “I’ve heard over and over that municipal officials are frustrated with available internet speeds and the cost to their towns of upgrading internet networks. These 46 municipalities have made the decision to take control of the situation.”
She continued, “From the high school to the town hall to the library, the demand for faster internet speeds and greater bandwidth is ever-increasing. Businesses face the same challenges, and we know more residents than ever are asking the same question: How do we get faster, cheaper, more reliable internet? Partnering with the private sector to examine the best way to build and finance these Gig networks is the first step in making them a reality in Connecticut.”
Gig networks deliver Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second or 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps), more than 100 times faster than the average home speed of about 9 Mbps. Other municipalities around the state were invited to join the effort simply by submitting an addendum detailing their town’s profile and administrative resources.
New Haven, Stamford and Hartford and the 43 other towns that joined represent a little more than 25 percent of the state’s 169 towns and include more than half of the state’s residents.
Internet connectivity has become one of the biggest technology issues facing state and local governments in recent times — but something that has accelerated over the last year.
Municipalities see faster Internet speeds as an economic benefit, enticing not only residents but also corporations to move in. The speeds are also helpful to education institutions – both in the K-12 space, which is seeing an increased amount of student devices and need the ability to connect them, and with higher education institutions that use the speed for research.
All of that equals a more economically vibrant population and that trickles down to the government itself, which benefits from the increase in tax revenue.
“That so many Connecticut cities have joined this effort is heartening and confirms for me the pent- up demand for high-capacity digital connectivity in support of commerce, research, and 21st century life in our state,” New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said in the press release. “I think this demonstrates the potential return on investment for a qualified supplier of next-generation infrastructure to drive economic growth and social progress in Connecticut.”