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Fastest internet connection in the country coming to East Hartford

fiber optic ribbon cable
Liz Hafalia/The San Francisco Chronicle
Getty Images
A fiber optic ribbon cable is shown in 2018 by Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic, an internet service provider in Santa Rosa, California.

Internet connections, touted to be the fastest on the market, are coming to Connecticut. And the town of East Hartford will be the first to benefit.

“East Hartford FiberCity has such a great ring to it, doesn’t it?” Mayor Marcia Leclerc said on Monday as she announced the project launch. The project has been in the works for about four years. “This will be a major economic driver for East Hartford and the region, enhancing business development and bridging the digital divide.”

As the state’s first FiberCity, East Hartford will benefit from an all-fiber, 10-gig-enabled broadband network by 2024. Unlike basic internet cable, fiber is known to send data more quickly and boost security, reliability and affordability for all residents.

The $40 million project was privately funded by New Jersey-based telecommunications company Sifi Networks. It will be an open-access network, which is the current gold standard for the internet, according to the company.

“I’d like you to think of an open-access network like an airport, where the airport is the infrastructure and multiple airlines come in and they lease gates from the airport. So that way you’re not building multiple airports for each airline,” said Bob Knight, a spokesman for Sifi Networks.

He said the open-access network offers a common infrastructure where competition can thrive. This offers a win-win situation for both small providers and residents. Small internet providers can grow on the network without putting down a large capital investment, and customers have more power to switch providers at their convenience.

Flume Internet will be the first provider. Flume, which operates in New York City and parts of Los Angeles, plans to offer discounted rates to up to 3,000 low-income households in East Hartford.

Fiber will be laid underground starting in 2022. It will be available free of charge to all businesses and residents, but Sifi Networks needs permission from property owners to install the connection.

Gov. Ned Lamont applauded the project. He said it will be especially transformational for those who may have had limited access to unreliable internet during the coronavirus pandemic.

“You are not getting a fair shot in this world unless you have the highest-speed access. It’s like having access to a book for Abraham Lincoln. We’re making that access for everybody and faster than any other place in the world,” said Lamont.

It will also make Connecticut more attractive to businesses, he added.

“I love it because I'm talking to a lot of businesses these days who are taking another look at Connecticut, and they always ask about broadband,” Lamont said. “Now I can tell them about East Hartford.”

Camila Vallejo is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. She is a bilingual reporter based out of Fairfield County and welcomes all story ideas at cvallejo@ctpublic.org.
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