Last fall, three Connecticut communities banded together to form what has now become a statewide effort to improve connectivity across the state. The CTgig Project has since blossomed to include 46 municipalities, or 50% of the state's population according to a recent press release.
The initiative began when Stamford, New Haven, and West Hartford issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) [PDF] to open up dialogue with potential private sector partners. The goal was described as an open access gigabit fiber network for residents, businesses, and community anchor institutions.
State officials traveled to various communities to share information on the project in a series of community meetings. We interviewed Connecticut Consumer Counsel Elin Katz and Broadband Policy Coordinator Bill Vallee about the project in Episode 118 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.
As an increasing number of Connecticut communities joined the initiative, others followed suit. In part because they recognized the need for better connectivity to improve the quality of life, but also because they recognized their perilous economic position if they chose to remain behind.
Southington's Town Council, debated whether or not to join the collaboration in early December. From a recent MyRecordJournal.com article:
“The way industry and business is moving these days, they all require a high level of Internet speed and access," [Rod] Philips [Southington’s director of planning and community development] said. “If we don’t do something, we’re going to be at a disadvantage.”
Southington voted to participate in the RFQ.
In the press release, Bill Vallee provided more details about what state leaders hoped to see from RFQ responses:
"The RFQ expressly seeks financing to be invested by the potential fiber network builders and Internet service providers expected to respond to the RFQ on January 13, 2015. Neither the state nor the municipalities will be investing funds in the networks or Internet service provisioning, but the municipalities will contribute in-kind assets and support.” Vallee stated that “the RFQ seeks to increase competition in the Internet access market to boost the currently low levels of access speeds available in Connecticut and reduce the exceedingly high rates compared to peer states and other nations charged by the incumbents. That said, incumbent telephone and cable operators are logical respondents since they are already providing Internet service across the state, and they are, of course, encouraged to respond to the RFP.”