CRCOG/Sertex partnership simplifies municipal fiber networks and increases universal access
Reliable, affordable communication and broadband access are essential to our municipalities and the communities they serve. The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program aims to identify and connect Unserved Communities (locations receiving internet speeds below 25 megabits per second (Mbps)/3 Mbps), Underserved Communities (locations receiving internet speeds below 100 Mbps/20 Mbps), and Community Anchor Institutions (CAI) locations without access to a 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) symmetric connection) within Connecticut. Per the FCC National Broadband Map, municipalities interested in expanding their broadband fiber connections can procure construction and implementation services through municipal shared service programs, including CRCOG’s IT Shared Services municipal purchasing program with Sertex Broadband Solutions.
By participating in CRCOG’s competitively priced shared services contract, communities can access expert fiber optic network infrastructure services without bidding. Sertex plans, designs, and builds customized broadband networks that efficiently and cost-effectively connect designated CAIs.
Designed to connect CAI networks, municipally owned fiber can dramatically enhance local government programs and services as well as provide reliable communication to all residents. Broadband connectivity allows shared access to data and services, and local ownership reduces operating costs by eliminating expensive, restrictive service contracts with commercial providers.
Funding Through Grants: The Town of Avon
Avon had been contemplating fully connecting 14 of its outlying facilities to its CEN-connected network. Currently, broadband service for these outlying facilities is either purchased from the local cable provider or dark fiber is leased from a third-party provider. These disparate networks make file and system sharing between Town facilities impossible.
Avon’s planned CAI network will link all school and board of education facilities, public safety, town offices, public works, animal control, library, transfer station, recreational and radio sites. Its vastly improved connectivity is projected to reduce the Town and Board of Education communications budgets by about $100,000 annually.
With ARPA funding available for community improvement, technically skilled town and BOE staff began researching costs and contacted Corning Optical Communications for guidance. Corning recommended Sertex, one of the company’s certified preferred installers, to design and build the network. As a CRCOG member community, Avon engaged Sertex through the cooperative purchasing program. The contract was signed in November and the pole licensing process has begun.
The total project cost is estimated at $939,000 with Sertex’s engineering, licensing and construction services estimated at $703,000. The remaining $236,000 will be used to purchase and install endpoint equipment required to operate the fiber in Town facilities. With the assistance of state representatives, Avon secured a $700,000 Urban Act Grant. ARPA funds will pay the balance of the project cost.
Local Funding: Plainville’s Network Build
Similarly, in 2021, the Town of Plainville worked with Sertex to build out its CAI fiber network to connect facilities in all four corners of the community with the town center. The Town owns its infrastructure and pays no recurring fiber lease or circuit charges, saving an estimated $40,000 annually. All town departments use the same phone and internet network, increasing communication reliability, especially in emergency situations.
Sertex estimated the total project cost at $453,378. While grant funding was unavailable at the time of the Plainville project, it was affordably financed with local funding.
Expanding Essential Broadband Connectivity
Connecticut’s continued prosperity relies on building robust and resilient broadband networks that can handle rapidly increasing demands for bandwidth and service. Infrastructure investments through grants or local funding, including BEAD, deliver ROI well into the future. CRCOG’s IT Shared Services cooperative agreement with Sertex can help towns achieve municipal goals for universal connectivity.
For additional information about the CRCOG IT Shared Services program, please contact Robyn Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sertex Broadband Solutions builds and maintains fiber optic networks for many towns throughout Connecticut through the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) IT Shared Services municipal purchasing program. During cable maintenance construction in Hartford, trained line crews perform pole transfers to inspect and document potential risks. Maintenance items are assessed and grouped to minimize costly truck rolls and maximize production and savings for customers.