ERIN STEWART: New Britain bridges digital divide with citywide fiber internet connectivity project

Published on Friday, 1 July 2022 12:15
Written by ERIN STEWART

New Britain Mayor

One of the many lessons we learned from the covid-19 pandemic was just how much students and families depend on high-speed internet to maintain everyday life, as well as professional and academic success outside the walls of the office or classroom. We saw many of our residents suffer from challenges of not having access to affordable internet that had enough power to handle the technological needs of an entire household, and it became painfully obvious that something needed to be done to bridge the digital divide.

Nearly 40 years ago, the internet officially launched in the United States. We have reached a point where those without easy access to high-speed internet do not have equal access to information, opportunities, healthcare or resources. This inequity was magnified during the pandemic, when families who were already suffering financially were fell on even harder times but still had multiple people in one house trying to use the limited internet they had.  

Internet is becoming a right, not a privilege. 

In efforts to address this issue, I recently announced that the City of New Britain has partnered with GoNetspeed to bring an affordable, high speed internet option to every single home in the city. This $5 million project will be the largest fiber optic internet public-private project in the state and will ensure that internet is accessible for every single resident of our city.  

Once complete, there will be about 150 miles of fiber optic internet installed throughout the entire city. It will allow for free public Wi-Fi to be available in city parks, as well as enhance connectivity between all the internet related technologies used in city buildings. This will allow the city to install safety surveillance cameras, reduce traffic congestion, as well as increase traffic flow with improved traffic signal coordination throughout New Britain.

Buildout of this project will begin in January of 2023, and should take about six months to complete. GoNetspeed will offer service as lines are installed, and residents can check availability in their area by entering their information at gonetspeed.com. 

This project will be paid for through American Rescue Plan Act funding, so it will not increase costs for New Britain taxpayers. This is yet another example of the city’s continuous effort to use federal pandemic recovery funding in ways that will make the maximum positive impact for our residents.  

Due to this partnership between the city and GoNetspeed, our residents who may be struggling to overcome the challenges associated with the digital divide will now have access to opportunities they may not have had otherwise. The city is making a state-of-the-art investment in our infrastructure that will help ensure that every resident has access to a reliable and affordable high-speed internet option, regardless of their socioeconomic status. 

Now that even more families will have access to the power of the internet, I know both the individual success of those who live here and our potential as a community is limitless.

Erin Stewart is the mayor of New Britain



Posted in New Britain Herald, Columns, New Britain on Friday, 1 July 2022 12:15. Updated: Friday, 1 July 2022 12:18.