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Comcast and Frontier consider expanding broadband for Sharon

SHARON — After 15 years of urging Comcast and Frontier to improve and broaden their services to cover all Sharon residences, the 12-member Sharon Connect Task Force announced news this week of possible progress toward the goal.

The task force announcement distributed by Co-chairman Jill Drew provided historical perspective and a progress update.

A public information session held in late March presented results of a study undertaken at the town’s request by Sertex Broadband Services of Plainfield, detailing what would be involved in the town cutting ties to Comcast and Frontier, in favor of creating a town-owned high-speed internet network that would serve all local homes and businesses.

The Sertex plan estimated a construction cost of $12.5 million, with a projected $89  per month service charge to all households, who would subscribe for the town-owned service.

Soon after the public meeting, Comcast officials approached the task force and First Selectman Brent Colley with their own plan to expand broadband internet to the homes and businesses not currently covered. They have proposed a plan under which they might “partner” with the town to cover costs of the expansion to supply the remaining 27 miles of roads and 234 homes in need of coverage.

In its announcement, the task force recognizes that a host of details still need to be worked out, but some preliminary thoughts involve using a portion of the ARPA funds allocated to the town. Comcast also envisions the possibility of applying for a variety of newly available federal and state funding programs.

Concurrent with Comcast’s preliminary discussions, Frontier has also proposed a possible partnership with the town that could involve adding fiber-optic lines to their existing copper wire network, and also pursuing federal and state funding, augmented by their own corporate funds.

In view of the interest being expressed by both Comcast and Frontier, the task force has decided to see what concrete proposals might develop from the two providers. A public information meeting would be held to hear the proposals. Eventually there would need to be a townwide vote on any proposal.

For more information on the Sharon Connect Task Force, go to www.sharonconnect.org.

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