Ridgefield seeks federal funds for broadband, high-speed internet

RIDGEFIELD — Every resident needs broadband; The city intends to take advantage of potential federal funds to ensure access to high-speed Internet service.

For this, Ridgefield struck a deal with a software development company to find out how close it is to having high-speed Internet for all. Residents and businesses rate their internet service poorly, a survey has found.

“Because it’s fiber that transmits light signals, the amount of information you can transmit is limitless, and the speed is beyond anything we’ve ever experienced,” said Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi, describing broadband.

The city’s goal is tied to the passage of the administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which would provide $65 billion to provide reliable, high-speed Internet access to every American through a historic investment in broadband infrastructure deployment.

By 2023, the government will look at which cities are “ready for broadband” and allocate $40 billion to those projects. Municipalities mapped with “shovel ready” plans will be best positioned for that funding.

To get the town “shovel ready,” Marconi called the town of Ridgefield; A three-party contract was signed between the Western Connecticut Council of Governments and software development company EntryPoint Networks to conduct a Broadband Feasibility Analysis.

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“The first step is a broadband feasibility study to try to determine where the fiber lines will be. What kind of structure will we have for the fiber, will it be a private model, a public company, a private partnership or a public-private partnership?” said Glori Norwitt, chairwoman of the city’s Economic and Community Development Commission.

Having strong broadband networks is critical infrastructure for Ridgefield, she said, prompting the city to begin a feasibility study since March.

According to EntryPoint, the study will take about four months to complete, she said.

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

The next step in getting broadband for the whole city is an engineering study that will include specific information about the locations in the city to implement fiber. The study will tell you exactly how many homes have broadband. Norwitt said remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds could pay for that study.

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I need broadband.

The city has been in need of high-speed Internet service for years.

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

In addition, By 2021, The first selectman’s office conducted Ridgefield’s “Internet Service Provider Customer Satisfaction Survey” and the town received a “D” rating.

in all About 10 percent of Ridgefield’s households and businesses responded by rating their residential and business Internet service.

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

For residential internet service

  • 85 percent of the city uses Comcast as their Internet provider, and 15 percent uses Frontier (everyone with Frontier service, according to the state Broadband Office, has outdated basic broadband speeds of 25 megabits/3 megabits per second because they don’t have outdated infrastructure, second).
  • 72 percent regularly experience service outages.
  • When many people are using the Internet in a business or household, they often experience slowness.
  • 10 percent is no problem at all.

For business internet service

  • 10 percent complain about slowness when many people use the Internet.
  • 8 percent reported errors or lag while streaming video.
  • 12 percent reported service outages.
  • Businesses along the Route 7 corridor report that their business Internet service goes down at least once a week.
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Recently, The city plans to allocate $45,000 from its American Rescue Plan Act funds for a broadband study. But once WestCOG offered to fund the study, the city decided to use those funds.

“Our goal is to provide transparency. I mean, if you can get this infrastructure built with federal government money … Open access lets you choose who you want to do business with, and Frontier doesn’t have to tell you. You have to accept their products or Comcast. You have to accept their products. This opens the playing field and makes for a more competitive market for all residents in our city,” Marconi said. “This is something we really want to contribute to our community and we want to be at the head of the pack when the money comes from the federal government.”


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