After I left the Navy, I dedicated my professional career to the field of Information Technology. I started at Porter and Chester Institute with basic computer certifications in A+, Networking and other disciplines. Through hard work and a little bit of luck, I've been able to advance my career to where I currently work in the field as a cellular engineer specializing in quality control and navigating LTE and 5G certifications.
My experiences and qualifications in this area are myriad, and I know that to keep Connecticut as a technological leader for the country and the world, we need to do more than simply slap up some 5G towers and call it a day.
My technological plan involves three tiers:
- Competitive Infrastructure
- Universal Internet Access
The 5G revolution is coming, and if Connecticut is to be competitive in the market for the best companies, workers and products in this evolving field, we need to start immediately.
As a Representative, I would support any legislation that would forward our advancement of 5G technology, which is the future of the connected workforce. Further, I would seek to educate both regular users and skeptics as to both the benefits and safety of the technology. Misinformation about 5G is rampant, and the only way to get past that is to have open and informative discussions, which I would look to have with anyone who asks.
As a resident of the Valley, we're in a unique position to be a leader in this area. Where factories used to exist, we can put businesses that cater to markets in the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine to Machine (M2M) technology, and other ways to leverage the internet, both from a manufacturing standpoint and a support role. Whereas the Valley of prior decades had factories and assembly lines, we can have factories that are up to modern code that work hand-in-hand with existing companies like Microboard Processing (MPI) in Seymour, with call centers to allow Connecticut residents to support users across the world.
Pop quiz: what are your local options for accessing the internet?
Chances are good that anyone reading this has Xfinity, maybe Frontier's satellite options, or Go Pound Sand. The options are extremely limited.
This is by design. Forced exclusivity of our collective backbones - the proverbial "tubes" that bring us our internet - serves to create a perverse enforced monopoly where companies have their respective geographic "corners" and enforce lockouts that prevent competition. This has kept companies like Verizon, Google and others who would provide faster, more reliable options from coming into the area.
Compare this to cellular options. Even once you account for Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) like US Cellular and Cricket Wireless, there are multiple options for backbone carriers, usually Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile/Sprint, all with multiple frequencies. Typical cellular towers will have hardware for all three remaining major carriers at the same physical location. There's no reason why we can't have this for home internet.
As a Representative, I would submit legislation that ends enforced monopolies for internet providers and force them to compete with companies providing better services for lower prices. This would not only make life easier on consumers, it would create jobs to wire the infrastructure for both typical cable-based internet and wireless 5G options.
Of course, none of this brings up how people will be able to use it who can't normally afford the internet. That's where the third branch of my plan comes in:
Universal Internet Access
Connecticut has discussed the concept of Network Neutrality in the past. Net Neutrality is a noble idea: the notion that internet providers must pass on all data regardless of where it's to and from (meaning, in practice, that Xfinity - who is owned by Comcast, the company that also owns NBC's networks - can't throttle Netflix traffic to get people to sign up for Peacock, a competing product). However, Net Neutrality is hard to enforce, easy to get around, and doesn't go far enough.
I would support legislation that makes the internet a public utility - similar to electricity - due to its importance in allowing people to access resources that are necessary for prosperity in 2020.
It is important to treat the internet like a utility for the same reason we make water and electricity a utility: to not have them is to be forever left behind in the 2020 economy. Further, we've learned with COVID that it's more expensive to play catch-up with our children regarding services that are required for a 2020 education. Connecticut already has the worst gaps - wealth gap, education gap, achievement gap - of any other state in the country, and to not address this issue now is akin to malpractice.
If I'm sent to Hartford, I will fight for the backbone that will make Connecticut a technological leader, now and for the future. I say with confidence that I'm the only one that knows how.