Ruggiero: Middletown extending broadband network

REP. DEBORAH RUGGIERO, D-Jamestown, chair of the state Legislative Commission to Study Broadband Services and Accessibility, worked with R.I. Commerce Corp., R.I. Department of Transportation and Middletown officials on an agreement that will extend the town’s fiber-optic network. / COURTESY DEBORAH RUGGIERO
REP. DEBORAH RUGGIERO, D-Jamestown, chair of the state Legislative Commission to Study Broadband Services and Accessibility, worked with R.I. Commerce Corp., R.I. Department of Transportation and Middletown officials on an agreement that will extend the town’s fiber-optic network. / COURTESY DEBORAH RUGGIERO

MIDDLETOWN – In a Jan. 9 op-ed, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-Jamestown, chair of the state Legislative Commission to Study Broadband Services and Accessibility, said an agreement has been signed that will extend Middletown’s fiber-optic network.

The memorandum of understanding will allow Middletown to access already existing, unused fiber in the R.I. Department of Transportation corridors on Aquidneck Island, the email said. The agreement was reportedly signed in June of 2017.

“This is the first agreement in the country in which a transportation agency is allowing a municipality access to its fiber-optics,” Ruggiero said in the email. “The defense industry on Aquidneck Island is an important economic sector … defense contractors in Middletown need high-speed internet access that is secure and reliable.”

A lack of broadband regulation in Rhode Island means the state and its communities can’t authorize network buildouts from broadband providers, said Ruggiero. She said she met with the R.I. Commerce Corporation, DOT, Middletown’s Chief Information Officer Matt Wainright and Town Administrator Shawn Brown over the past year to work on the agreement.

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“Here’s to keeping that engineering company or other small businesses from leaving because Middletown has found an innovative way to expand broadband service … making broadband access fast, affordable and secure,” Ruggiero said.

Susan Shalhoub is a PBN contributor.

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