Finance board approves Nutmeg Network grant

The Board of Finance approved an application for a Nutmeg Network grant at a special meeting in the Middlebrook auditorium on Monday, March 24.

The sole purpose of the special meeting was to make a decision on the grant, which had been discussed at previous board meetings.

Chief Financial Officer Sandy Dennies — in place of Information Systems Director John Savarese — had sought the board’s approval of the Nutmeg Network grant at its March 18 meeting.

“As you all know, the state has been underwriting the cost of the Internet for public schools for quite some time,” Ms. Dennies said to the board.

“The Nutmeg Network grant has been made available to help subsidize the cost of Internet for municipalities.”

The Nutmeg Network is a statewide, fiber-optic infrastructure that not only expands but improves high-speed Internet availability.

According to the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services, “construction of the fiber footprint across the state makes access to high-speed networking less expensive.”

Ms. Dennies explained to the board that the Nutmeg Network grant would offset the cost by 50%.

“With the grant, what used to cost us over $12,000 to access the Internet would cost us $6,034.”

In an email, Mr. Savarese told The Bulletin that “Wilton is one of more than 70 communities that are applying to join the Nutmeg Network under the current grant program.”

Mr. Savarese said the Nutmeg Network provides municipal governments, public school systems, colleges, and universities an opportunity to gain access to the same network infrastructure specifically designed and built to support the state’s police and fire departments.

“If Wilton’s application to join the network is approved, the town will benefit by getting generous Internet access at a subsidized rate over a very reliable network,” said Mr. Savarese.

According to Mr. Savarese, the Wilton Public Schools are already part of the Connecticut Education Network (CEN), which provides their Internet access.

“The Nutmeg Network is really just an upgrade of CEN for them. For the municipal side, it is a whole new service,” said Mr. Savarese.

The purpose of the Nutmeg Network differs from the previously proposed fiber-optic backbone project that was intended to piggyback on the Yankee Gas service extension, said Mr. Savarese.

“The fiber-optic backbone project was aimed at connecting eight Wilton locations with each other,” explained Mr. Savarese.

“The Nutmeg Network grant would connect town hall to the public Internet by way of the Connecticut Education Network connection located at the Board of Education.”

According to the state, the Nutmeg Network’s footprint consists of two existing networks, Public Safety Data Network and CEN, which are supported by state agencies.