Connecticut Mayors Seek Gigabit Partners

Issue RFQ For Faster, Cheaper Broadband

Three Connecticut cities are putting the pedal to the metal on 1-Gig broadband service, and are inviting other cities to join their effort.

In a request for qualifications issued Monday, the mayors of New Haven, which will administer the RFQ (Stamford and West Hartford issued what it called a "global call" for companies and organizations to potentially develop Gig networks in their cities).

But it does not stop at their municipal boundaries. Other Connecticut cities are being invited to join the effort by submitting addenda to the request for qualifications describing their "interests and assets."

The goal: Speed up service and reduce network costs for everyone. For "underserved" or disadvantaged areas, that would mean low-cost or even free service of at least 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps minimum, and for the rest "at prices comparable to other gigabit fiber communities across the nation."

“It’s time we tear down the walls to gigabit Internet access in Connecticut,” said Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford), described by the mayors as a "prime mover" in the municipal broadband effort. “Not only will businesses and universities thrive, but consumers will benefit from the lower prices and wider access that this initiative will create. We have the will and I believe we have the ability to make this happen for Connecticut.”

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is all for such efforts, and is looking to make them easier by potentially preempting state legislative attempts to limit municipal broadband.

Wheeler liked what he was hearing out of of Connecticut.

“High-speed broadband is an essential asset for today’s communities and tomorrow’s economy," he said in a statement. "Too many Americans lack real choices for fast, affordable Internet service, which I 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.”

Blair Levin, executive Director of the Gig.U high-speed broadband initiative and czar of the FCC's National Broadband Plan under FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, praised the move. “Throughout our nation’s history, Connecticut cities have been leaders in inventing the future.  With this RFQ, Connecticut cities are again staking a claim to lead in the 21st century global information economy,” Levin said in a statement.