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The Fiber Moment Has Arrived; Will Local Governments Seize It?

The Fiber Moment Has Arrived; Will Local Governments Seize It?

Source: Kevin Maloney, New Haven Independent

The internet has transformed before our eyes and many probably didn’t even notice.

Curt Fox of Crown Castle and Dale Bruckhart of Digital Backoffice have had front row seats to this transformation. They joined us on ​“The Municipal Voice,” a co-production of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and WNHH FM, to talk about the future of fiber and municipal networks. 

In the evolution from dial-up to DSL and cable networks, many might place fiber optic networks last – but really they had been building out since the early 2000s. 

Starting with the Connecticut Education Network in 2002 and moving on to the Public Safety Network in 2009, Crown Castle had built out municipal networks throughout the I‑91 and I‑95 corridors. Though we hear a lot about Biden’s infrastructure deal, it was Obama’s stimulus package that enabled the state to lay out fiber reaching every town and city in the state. 

So the connectivity is there, but the planning and execution of these networks are still needed. 

Cities need redundant networks, the guests cautioned, with so many critical services running on the ​“internet of things.” It might be no big deal if the local school doesn’t have internet for a little while, but Voice Over Internet Protocol systems — more commonly referred to as VOIP networks — have become critical tools for public safety. 

As for safety, these networks are being built out for connectivity. Schools can make their cameras accessible to the police department, or networks can be created to link back securely to the town services. 

In one example, the town of Norwalk added security cameras to a beach access point through the use of fiber. That had an added benefit of allowing a wi-fi network to be accessible. 

Though fiber isn’t the so-called ​“last mile” of many networks, it’s the ​“middle mile” and enables services like wi-fi on the New Haven Green even if it’s not connecting directly to the fiber network.

With future infrastructure money, Curt and Dale suggested that towns look into building out their fiber, and letting local businesses in on the game. 

The said that there’s a clear economic development angle for businesses or even whole business parks to have access to the high speeds of fiber. They even wondered aloud if the state should look into a tax rebate for businesses that build out the last mile infrastructure. 

No one is going to argue that the internet is going away, but the question of where it is going remains. With fiber networks, Connecticut can be connected. 

To watch this episode of The Municipal Voice, click here.