Westfield looking at alternative to internet services for the city

WESTFIELD – The City of Westfield is currently working on an alternative to internet service for the city through an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Westfield Gas & Electric through Whip City Fiber (WCF). The IGA would utilize the 10-gigabyte ring that connects all city buildings and schools that was set up by Westfield G&E two years ago, but did not include internet connectivity.
For the past three years, internet to the city has been provided under a contract with Comcast which delivers 200 megabytes of speed per second to the Technology Center, which in turn connects internet to the 10-gig ring. With the contract due to expire, a Request for Proposal (RFP) was sent out this spring for internet services to the city departments and schools that provide 1 gigabyte of speed per second. Comcast came back with the lowest bid, but the contract was never signed.
Meanwhile, Mayor Brian P. Sullivan was meeting with representatives from Whip City Fiber, Purchasing, the Technology Center and the Law Department to look at a way to have WCF utilize the 10-gigabyte technology infrastructure that it manages for the city to also bring internet services through an intergovernmental agreement.
“Everything will travel on the 10 gig ring through Whip City Fiber. It’s a single source of equipment, too, as opposed to having some equipment from Comcast, and some from Whip City Fiber,” Sullivan said. “It’s a simple solution that will bring dividends as we move forward with technology,” he added.
Sullivan said they are developing a mutual agreement with WCF to lower the costs. He also said this would allow the city, schools and WCF to take advantage of some opportunities that WCF has brought forward.
John Leary, Chief Information Officer with Westfield Gas & Electric and WCF said the thought was to use the existing infrastructure to bring internet services. “This particular option, using the 10 gig ring, was the best option for the city. Comcast wasn’t proposing becoming part of the 10-gig ring,” Leary said. He said while the current proposal is looking for 1 gig of internet, “if future demands are such that more than 1 gig is required, we could certainly provide more band width. The connection is already there. All we have to do is add to the gigs,” Leary said.
Ward 5 Councilor Robert A. Paul, Sr., who formerly served as a Westfield Gas & Electric Commissioner, was also involved in the negotiation.
“Whip City Fiber is probably the highest performing fiber technology in the region. We’re fortunate in the city to have that technology broadly accepted by businesses and residents. Using this technology for schools and city offices is a brilliant use of a technology that all of us as residents have invested in,” Paul said.
Sullivan said the technology is being tested “as we speak,” with both WCF and Comcast running internet to the city. “Right now, we’re going month to month with Comcast while we analyze these other options,” he said. The funding request for $30,600 for one year of internet services approved by the City Council on Thursday was for Whip City Fiber, the Mayor said.
Chief Procurement officer Tammy Tefft also acknowledged that the city is currently month to month with Comcast while they are working with G&E on the Intergovernmental Agreement for internet to the city.

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