Southington joins the state quest for faster, cheaper internet

By LINDSAY CAREY
STAFF WRITER

The Town Council has agreed to join an initiative led by New Haven to collect information on the best way to create a gigabyte network, which has been providing better internet service across the country.

“They want cheaper, faster internet, more reliable internet,” said Director of Planning and Community Development Rob Phillips. “It’s an initiative that has been growing around the country essentially creating fiber optic networks for residential, businesses, and municipalities.”

Phillips said New Haven is seeking towns to join what it is being called “gig city,” which would regionalize internet service across several towns. Towns that already interested in joining this gig city for better internet service include Stamford, West Hartford, Madison, Meriden, and Fairfield.

According to Phillips, gigabyte internet service is more efficient than a megabyte service in many ways. As far as speed, Phillips said a gigabyte network will be 100 times faster than the current internet speed in Connecticut, which is 9 megabytes per second.

Additionally, Phillips shared that the cost of a gigabyte network will significantly improve by joining the gig city.

“According to the Hartford Business Journal, the current cost of a gig bandwidth for Comcast users is $3,000 per month so if you want a gigabyte and you’re a business that’s what you’re paying through Comcast,” said Phillips. “Now the same type of service in a Gig City is running about $70 a month, so there’s a substantial difference there.”

A gigabyte internet service is not yet available in the Northeast, according to Phillips, so participating in this initiative would make Southington one of the leading towns in internet service. In turn, this could attract more businesses and residents to the town.

“It’s essential for economic development if we’re going to keep up with high technology users and be competitive throughout the country,” said Phillips. “Right now we’re at a competitive disadvantage with other locals around the country.”

Southington and the other towns that have joined the initiative have not made any financial or legal commitments, but have agreed to participate in looking for a way for a Gig City could be created.

“The objective is to gather ideas and recommendations for developing, upgrading and expanding the broadband infrastructure,” said Phillips.” It’s basically an information-gathering exercise for ideas and ways to actually create a gig network in the state and the region.”

If a proposal comes out of this process, the town will have to decide whether it will go individually or collection on a request for proposal (RFP).

“Basically it’s a public-private partnership and that’s the model that has been successful throughout the country, so this initiative here is trying to mimic that type of progress,” said Phillips.

The Town Council unanimously decided to approve the Gig City request for qualifications (RFQ) initiative.

“I know I definitely am intrigued and would like to see Southington at the forefront of this,” said Town Councilor Dawn Miceli.

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