Over the last week, high speed broadband has been on my radar screen as there was a public hearing on SB 572, An Act Concerning Gigabit Internet Access, and significant discussion at a meeting of fellow Tech Councils in Washington that I attended.
In Connecticut, we enjoy widespread access to high speed internet service thanks largely to the significant investment of the private sector carriers. We also have a publicly funded fiber optic network in Connecticut, the Nutmeg Network, which brings fiber optic cables into every one of our 169 towns. From these investments, Connecticut is considered one of the most wired states in the country and a leader in the world.
Outside our borders, disruption in the industry is taking place, Cities throughout the country are installing, or having installed, high speed, affordable gigabit internet service. In some cases firms like Google and AT&T are installing the service, and in others the city or municipality is doing it themselves. In all cases, this disruption is creating a competitive economic advantage for those jurisdictions. Places like Kansas City and Chattanooga that have had affordable ($70 monthly) gigabit service for a couple of years are beginning to see an influx of young entrepreneurs who are locating there to take advantage of the internet speeds available. This is the demographic that Connecticut needs to attract and we are increasingly uncompetitive in our efforts
How do we become competitive and offer affordable gigabit service to our businesses and residents while recognizing the investment made to date by the carriers? That is the conundrum. Answering that question will unlock an opportunity for Connecticut, particularly if we can move quickly and serve as a mecca for the millennials in Boston and New York who would set up shop in Connecticut to access the gigabit internet service. The answer cannot be ‘sit tight and hope for the best’. It needs to be one where all parties are heard and the best possible structure gets put together that meets the goal of ubiquitous, affordable gigabit internet service throughout Connecticut.
You can access my testimony on SB 572 here. The Connecticut Technology Council has among its membership representatives of technology companies that are yearning for this affordable gigabit internet service and new entries into the workforce as well as the major carriers who are concerned about this disruption taking place. We stand ready to assist the discussion about providing ubiquitous, affordable gigabit internet service in Connecticut to help bring about solutions that are fair to all concerned.
I would appreciate your comments on this topic and any others in which you feel the CTC should become engaged.