The state's broadband project coordinator says having access to a state-of-the-art open fiber-optic network that reaches every home and business is as important as building roads and bringing water and electricity to residents.
(TNS) -- The City Plan Commission gave the go-ahead to the Board of Alders to take the first steps toward bringing fiber-optic cable to every household in New Haven.
William Vallee Jr., the broadband project coordinator for the state, told the members that having access to a state-of-the-art open fiber-optic network that would reach every home and business is as important as building roads and bringing water and electricity to residents.
A collaboration of municipalities put out a request for proposals for a private investor to work with cities to accomplish this and Macquarie Capital was selected to do it.
Macquarie requires, as a condition to participate in what is the called CTgig Project, an interlocal agreement be signed among towns interesting in working with them.
New Haven would be the first to enter into an agreement for Macquarie to develop a citywide feasibility study to determine the baseline engineering data and design criteria and establish the probable costs of a fiber network in the city.
The resolution states that despite the demand for gigabit-level access speeds, the current supply is either unavailable or prohibitively expensive.
It states that it is up to the towns to work together to go around the current providers “who have largely ceased investing in advanced technologies due to huge sunk costs in legacy copper and coaxial cable infrastructure, leading these companies to merely harvest profits from their historical investments.”
Vallee said New Haven is a prime city to get involved in this and get a feasibility study underway, and he credited Mayor Toni Harp’s interest in it.
“This town is a goldmine of data,” Vallee said.
He said if everything fell into place, the investor could start laying cable in a year, with the project finished in less than three years.
“Broadband access is no longer a luxury,” he told the members. “I think it is a public utility.”
Vallee anticipated increased competition among Internet providers, once the cable is in.
The issue will go before an aldermanic committee in August, with a possible vote by the full board in September. Under the plan, Macquarie is the borrower over 30 years with no city or state debt, he said.
Economic Development Administrator Matthew Nemerson said high-speed access citywide would be a game changer for New Haven through this “unique business proposition.”
He said the wealthy now pay what they have to for access at this level of service, but the vast middle are victims of the “structural mediocrity” of Internet service.
Ironically, the dense concentrations of poverty in some neighborhoods actually works for wide-scale cable installation because the homes are so close together, he said, bringing down the cost of delivery.
The board at its meeting heard some public comments on the proposed Comprehensive Plan of Development, in which two citizens asked for better figures on the capacity of the city’s sewage treatment system and stronger language on public access to the West River Watershed, according to City Planner Karyn Gilvarg.
The hearing on New Haven Vision 2025 has been left open for another month so the public can send comments. The documents are online at the City Plan website.
The commission also recommended variances requested by Barcade to open a craft beer and vintage video arcade at 56 Orange St. be granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals.
It recommended that the BZA also allow a special exception for front-yard parking at 150 Townsend Ave.
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