East Hartford’s fiber internet network stalled by funding

East Hartford’s fiber internet network stalled by funding

The project, unveiled in 2018, would see internet infrastructure developer SiFi Networks install fiber optic cable connections capable of delivering 10 gigabit speeds to every business and residential address in East Hartford. SiFi was to conduct the “FiberCity” project independently from the town, installing cable below the tree belt or under streets with its own equipment and employees.

A survey conducted by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities earlier this year showed that Connecticut consumers want more affordable and reliable internet service.

Walsh said the town signed a contract with SiFi giving it until 2025 to get the cable in the ground, but the town expects to know by the end of October if and how the project would move forward.

“A couple things should be clear by that date, if not sooner,” Mayor Mike Walsh said.

SiFi announced the beginning of the construction phase of the project in May 2022, backed by a $42 million private investment.

Walsh said the difficult lending market caused SiFi’s investor to pull funding during the winter construction break, putting the project in limbo. He said the company is also in the process of searching for a new vendor for its “microtrenching” equipment, one of the key parts of its initial pitch. SiFi officials have said the machinery used would limit disruptions to traffic and allow for faster completion of the installation.

A spokesperson from SiFi said the company remains committed to the East Hartford project and plans to return to construction shortly, noting that SiFi has “strong institutional investor relations” and raised $350 million in financing in June.