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Wilton's Fiber Optic Plan a 'Folly,' Says Reader

A reader writes in to express his dissenting opinion on Wilton's plan to fiber-optically connect several main public areas of town.

 

I expect I am the somewhat average, long-term complacent member of our charming community.  

Unfortunately the proposal by our Board of Selectmen to recommend an investment of $1.6 million for a of very questionable benefit has figuratively knocked me off my chair of complacency. (Feel free to consult the Town of Wilton website with regard to the “Shared Data Fiber Optic Network” bonded capital project proposal.)

I have more than a casual understanding of such technology matters and would express grave concern with the potential folly of this project proposal. The vapid two page presentation document on the town website does not offer any real rationale or allay any technical, operational or financial concerns with regard to this significant investment. 

The project is a solution in search of a problem. As a business executive, I am trained to focus on the basics: What are the precise, documented needs? What are the alternative solutions? Where is the financial justification?   

While there could be many concerning questions raised with regard to the  requirements, this particular project should be dead on arrival from the simple perspective that alternative robust solutions are available at a lower cost.     

While I understand this recommendation was part of a commissioned infrastructure study, the ‘experts’ involved appear to have been selling a project rather than evaluating a solution. I appreciate it is a difficult assessment for our town leaders due to limited exposure to the technical subject matter and natural reliance on professional recommendations.

I expressed early concern with the approach and contacted our elected leadership in February with an offer to use personal and business contacts to provide an informal but impartial review of this project by some true industry subject matter experts.  It is my belief and opinion that these professionals hold greater expertise than those with whom the town of Wilton had contracted with for a recommendation.  

While I was provided a very polite response, there was no effort taken to share information of an expert evaluation to achieve the best outcome for our community.   

$1.6 million might not seem significant in a wealthy town like ours, but I would strongly urge every resident to question this particular project. There is no desperate need, no immediate urgency and further study is appropriate.

In a time of economic hardship for so many, Wilton does not need this fiber optic folly.

 

Christopher DiMattio

Steve Symonds April 19, 2012 at 02:13 PM
I do telecom network consulting for companies in the U.S., and around the world...fiber, satellite, cable, and hybrids. These networks can generate some really impressive Return on Investment for both private companies and public institutions (including local/town government)...and in my experience that's the reason they are funded in the first place (regardless of whether the money is private or public). A report that deals with costs and design establishes the operational baseline for such an undertaking...capital costs, operating costs, and network service capabilities. This would in turn provide essential data for the decision-makers to evaluate the cost-benefits of proceeding to build the network. It's the same exercise whether you are a corporate exec of a public official. So what we need to see is this cost-benefit evaluation...or whatever the Town officials are calling the decision analysis document that justified the decision to proceed. Let's put the whining and fuming on hold until we see that...better to light one candle than curse the darkness!
Mel Norris April 23, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Let's see.... an emergency computer network? I think the town has been watching the sci fi channel too much. Police, fire, and EMS all have radios, which do not require this level of technology. This is not NORAD; its Wilton! A 20 yr payback is ridiculously long; the average commerical use estimation should be based on 7 yrs max. As an alternative, why not lay in empty conduit now; with a drag line for future use? This is a ridiculous tech toy; why not build a monorail instead? A generator for the library as a shelter - another ridiculous waste of resources for a building that is all glass with a flat (weak) roof, sitting at almost river level. Why more bandwith and speed -- for what ?? It will be obsolete in less than 10 years. And at $4000 dollars per person, plus interest, the savings are no where near the cost of the system, not even at a fraction of the cost. Ridiculous.
dp April 25, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Paul, I am the member of the Library IT Staff you commented about. Let me correct you: 1. I never said I purchased fiber capable routers, rather I purchased Fiber capable switches. It would be nice to be accurate. 2. If you heard my comments clearly, i mentioned this equipment is what is commonly available and because of the day and age we live in this equipment doesn't cost extra. It is standard equipment at this point in time. 3. You are welcome to come by and look at the type of purchasing i make, I have nothing to hide and have worked very hard to save money. I would challenge anyone to find better pricing on the equipment I purchase. I also feel confident in what I purchase is necessity and not luxury. 4. These switches were purchased out of necessity but can easily be repurposed for this project and I absolutely wanted to have equipment in place to be ready to take advantage of this opportunity day one. Especially with requiring additional equipment cost. 5. I have implemented a backup solution out of necessity that can easily be integrated into this fiber project. Again it was not purchased for the project but if it is used within this project it provides a second layer of security that I do not have now. I also remember my point about operating within our current budget to take advantage of this network as being appreciated by the BOF. I can't argue with your decision to not support this project, however I will take offense to your accusations.
Eustace Tilley April 25, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Yesterday, Newtown's voters DEFEATED their proposed BUDGET. Vote NO TOO HIGH ----- why? I have 16 reasons to vote NO TOO HIGH a. It's too high b. the Town withholds info on actual expenditures by line item - we don't know where the money goes! c. the BOS has an extra $650,000 previously used for paving d. the BOS budget is up over 3% not the 1.75% on an apples to apples basis e. the BOE spent $6 million LESS than budget last year and will hire only 2 teachers f. we were overtaxed last year; the proposed budget does not fix recover it g. Median household income is up 22% (since 2000) h. Inflation is up 26% (since 2000) i. Town budget is up more than 100% (since 2000) j. No material change in town or school services since 2000 k. Property values in town continue to fall due in part to higher taxes than neighbors l. Savings from teacher union contract are being wasted m. Budget increase goes to benefits not services n. 500 Wilton residents live below the national poverty line o. 40 homes are in foreclosure p. corporate and small businesses continue to lay off tell your neighbors, drive the elderly to the polls
Scott May 10, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Is there an online copy of the 105 page report ?

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