Ridgefield is seeking federal funding for high-speed broadband internet | Wbactive

RIDGEFIELD — The city intends to use future federal funding to ensure every resident has access to broadband, high-speed Internet service.

To that end, Ridgefield has reached an agreement with a software development company to conduct a feasibility study to see how close the city is to realizing high-speed internet for all. A city survey found that residents and businesses rated their internet service poorly.

“This is a fiber that sends light signals, so the amount of information you can carry is almost limitless and the speed is beyond anything we’ve ever experienced,” said Rudy Marconi, Ridgefield’s First Selectman, in describing broadband .

The city’s goal is to pass the government’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, which will provide $65 billion to ensure every American has access to reliable, high-speed Internet through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment.

In 2023, the government will see which cities are “broadband ready” and allocate $40 billion to those projects. Communities mapped with “shovel-ready” plans will be best positioned for this funding.

To get the city “shovel-ready,” Marconi signed a three-party agreement between the City of Ridgefield, the Western Connecticut Government Council, and EntryPoint Networks, a software development firm, to conduct a broadband feasibility study.

“The first phase is a broadband proof of concept to try to decide a number of things like B. where the fiber optic lines are currently located? What kind of structure will you have for fiberglass? private partnership or just public? Will it be open access?” said Glori Norwitt, chair of the city’s Economic and Community Development Commission.

She added having robust broadband networks is “a critical infrastructure for Ridgefield,” and said she’s been pushing for the city to begin a feasibility study since March.

She said it will take about four months to complete the study, according to EntryPoint.

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments, or WestCOG, will fund the $35,000 study through its grant program.

The next stage to get broadband for the whole city will be a technical study that would include the specifics of the locations in the city for fiber optic implementation. The study will be able to say exactly how many households have broadband. Norwitt said leftover funds from the American Rescue Plan Act may be available to pay for this study.

need for broadband

The city has recognized the need for high-speed Internet service for several years.

Ridgefield’s 2020 Preservation and Development Plan states that it is a city goal to promote high-speed, high-capacity broadband service to all parts of the city.

Additionally, in 2021, the first Selectman’s Office conducted Ridgefield’s Internet Service Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey, giving the city a “D” rating.

Overall, approximately 10 percent of Ridgefield homes and businesses responded and rated their personal and business Internet service.

Residents rated their current internet service a “D+” and businesses rated their current internet service a “D”.

For private internet service:

  • 85 percent of the city uses Comcast as its Internet Service Provider, 15 percent uses Frontier (the State Broadband Office estimates that anyone with Frontier service has sub-broadband speeds as infrastructure is outdated and basic broadband speeds are 25 megabits per second/3 megabits per second). second missing second)
  • 72 percent regularly experience short service interruptions
  • 61 percent experience slowdowns when multiple people in the business or household use the internet
  • 10 percent have no problems at all

For business internet service:

  • 10 percent complain about slowdowns when several people use the Internet
  • 8 percent report errors or delays when streaming videos
  • 12 percent report short service interruptions
  • Businesses along the Route 7 corridor report that their business internet service is down at least once a week.

Recently, the city planned to allocate $45,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act funding to a broadband study. However, when WestCOG offered to fund the study, the city decided to use those funds.

“Our goal is to provide open access. That means if we can build that infrastructure with federal government money… Open Access would allow you to choose who you want to do business with, and Frontier wouldn’t tell you, you have to accept their products or Comcast, you have to accept theirs accept products. This opens the playing field and makes it a much more competitive market for all of our city’s residents,” Marconi said. “It’s something we really want to offer to our community, and we want to be at the forefront when the money comes from the federal government .”

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