Broadband Communities

JAN-FEB 2015

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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48 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Gigabits Across Connecticut The Connecticut state government is spearheading a public-private project to help municipalities improve their broadband options. By Bill Vallée / Connecticut Ofce of Consumer Counsel I n July 2014, Connecticut Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz joined Bruce Carlson, president of the Connecticut Technology Council, an association of technology companies and institutions, and set out on a listening tour. Teir purpose was to fnd out what high-tech business leaders thought about their broadband services. In focus groups held in Stamford, New Haven and Hartford, they met with nearly 100 business leaders and political supporters, including Kevin Lembo, the state comptroller, and Catherine Smith, the economic development commissioner. Tese meetings sparked a statewide project – the frst of its kind – to transform broadband services for businesses. Te focus groups showed that the business community was deeply frustrated with the inadequate supply of gigabit Internet access. Business leaders said their current broadband speeds were insufcient to support interactions with consumers and vendors. Tey were aware that better, cheaper, faster service was available elsewhere or in other locations of their own businesses, and they wanted access to all-fber networks like those being built in other states or nations. Tey knew this would not occur unless the existing broadband duopoly faced competition. It was clear that the business leaders in Connecticut, a state with a very high number of high-tech manufacturers providing products throughout the world, demand far greater broadband capacity at reasonable rates than is currently available. Tey didn't want fber access only for their ofces and factories – they wanted it for their entire communities. Tese high-tech leaders emphasized that they didn't operate in a vacuum. For example, they wanted their employees to be able to work from home or while traveling the United States or the world. Te Connecticut-based health insurer Aetna, for example, was already saving real estate costs by allowing 40 percent of its workforce to work remotely; with better broadband, it could expand this program and save even more. Employers were also looking for efciencies in health care delivery. Tey knew electronic health records and remote monitoring technology could improve their employees' health and reduce health care costs, but these entrepreneurs made it abundantly clear that these advanced technologies depend on access to ultra-high- speed, very reliable, redundant broadband. Business leaders thought increased broadband use would stimulate a "virtuous cycle." If they had better broadband, they said, they would invest in new applications and Bill Vallée will give more details about the CTgig project at the BroadBand Communities summit in Austin, April 14–16.

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