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“Disappointing” news does not deter Broadband Committee

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KENT—Selectmen Lynn Mellis Worthington had disappointing news about the future of broadband in the town to report to her fellow selectmen during their regular meeting Wednesday, April 24.

The Broadband and Mobile Communications Working Group Committee had hoped to tap into federal BEAD (Broadband Equity, Access and Development) funding to expand high-speed connections throughout the community but to do so, it has to mount challenges to existing services provided by Spectrum, the current provider for much of the town.

The committee solicited community cooperation from homeowners to prove download and upload speeds. The public responded and much data has been collected. 

“It’s a little depressing,” Worthington told her colleagues on the board. “I thought we had made progress. Then DEEP [the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection] finally clarified what would happen if people could purchase higher-priced plans. Most of those surveyed are not meeting the speeds [they pay for in their plans], but because Spectrum provides higher speed for a higher price, we probably can’t challenge them. It’s like $114 a month—ridiculously expensive—but that is not a factor in all of this.”

She said DEEP had not provided any of this information to communities at the beginning of the process. “I will push back,” she said, adding that she has already initiated two challenges and her committee wants to move forward with others. The state has extended its deadline for challenges to May 14, giving the committee more time.

“People have been wonderful and I want to encourage them to send us three screen shots plus a bill,” she said.

The committee is also reaching out to Frontier to try to establish a partnership. Frontier is stringing fiber optic cable that is expected to make high-speed transmission available to about 500 residences, but not in less densely sections of town.

She asked First Selectman Marty Lindenmayer to see if some kind of cooperative movement can be established with other member towns of the Northwest Hills Council of Governments in working with Frontier. 

The next Broadband Committee meeting is May 8.

Kathryn Boughton
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