Ridgefield seeks federal funds for broadband, high-speed internet

RIDGEFIELD – The city plans to use federal funds to ensure every resident has access to broadband, the fastest Internet service.

After that result, Ridgefield entered into an agreement with a software development company to conduct a feasibility study to determine how close the city is to having high-speed Internet for all. A city survey found that residents and businesses rated their internet service well.

“This is fiber that sends light signals so the amount of information you can send is almost unlimited and it’s faster than anything we’ve ever seen,” said Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi. , in defining broadband.

The city’s goal is to pass the government’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides $65 billion to help ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed Internet through historical investment in the deployment of broadband infrastructure.

By 2023, the government will identify cities that are “broadband ready” and allocate $40 billion to those projects. Municipalities with “waste control” plans are slated for that money.

To help prepare the city for the “shovel,” Marconi signed a three-way agreement between the city of Ridgefield, the Western Connecticut Council of Governments, and EntryPoint Networks, a software development company to do a Broadband Feasibility Analysis.

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“The first step is a broadband feasibility study to try to determine some things like where are the fiber lines now? What kind of building are you going to have for fiber? It’s going to be “Is it a private model, a public-private partnership, or just public?” said Glori Norwitt, director of the city’s Economic & Community Committee.

He added that having more open space businesses is “very important for Ridgefield” and said he is urging the town to start a feasibility study starting in March.

He said, according to EntryPoint, it takes four months to complete the training.

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

The next step in getting broadband for the entire city is an engineering study about the details of the city’s areas for fiber implementation. The study can accurately predict the number of households that have access to broadband. Norwitt said remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds could be available to pay for that research.

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Good for broadband

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

Ridgefield’s 2020 Plan of Conservation & Development states that the city’s goal is to promote high-speed/high-speed broadband service for all areas of the city.

Additionally, in 2021, the first election office conducted Ridgefield’s “Internet Service Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey,” in which the city received a “D” rating.

In all, about 10 percent of Ridgefield households and businesses responded, setting up their residential and commercial internet service.

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

For residential internet service:

  • 85 percent of the city uses Comcast for their internet service, 15 percent use Frontier (the State Broadband Office recommends that anyone with Frontier service get sub-broadband speeds due to older systems that lack basic broadband speed of 25 megabits per second/3 megabits per second)
  • 72 percent regularly experience short service interruptions
  • 61 percent experience delays when many people use the Internet at work or at home
  • 10 percent is no problem
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For business internet service:

  • A 10 percent delay is reported when many people are using the site.
  • 8 percent show buggering and lag while streaming video
  • 12 percent reported short-term service interruptions
  • Businesses on Route 7 report that their business website goes down once a week.

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

“Our goal is to provide open access. What that means is if we can build this business with money from the federal government … opening up will allow you to choose the anything you want to do without Frontier telling you. , You have to accept their product or Comcast, you have to accept their product. This is what opens the playing field. and it becomes a very competitive market for everyone in our city,” said Marconi. “This is something that we really want to provide to our community and we want to be at the head of the line when the money comes from the federal government.”

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