Our Bridge to the Future

Our Story

Roberta Willis, our now-retired state assemblyman, listened to hundreds of complaints about our regional networks for telephone and Internet and came to a simple conclusion: neither our phone company nor our cable TV companies will take us into the future.   We have networks that were designed decades ago which HAVE run out of gas.  Yes, they could be upgraded, but they are not being upgraded elsewhere, and we will be dead last when they get around to it.

She knew we were on our own.

So she formed Northwest Connect with other elected officials and some private citizens to orchestrate a network for the future.  That network builds lines out of optical fibers which transmit light signals at speeds millions of time faster than copper lines.  Such a network would also enable an enhancement to our mobile network, now riddled with dead spots.  We began our work two years ago.  At that time, there were a lot of skeptics and most of our elected officials thought we didn’t need it.  We went through a flirtation with Frontier for a few months, but have since been working on a public/private partnership where a private partner would install and maintain the network but with shared funding, some from the partner, some from the communities.  Such an arrangement will enable universal connection throughout the target region and some income sharing as the network realizes profits.

We have turned our skeptics into believers.  We now have first selectmen on our board, as well as local leadership.  In fact, the whole elected community has gotten behind us, and communities throughout our region are prioritizing this effort in their town plans.  With the grant from the state powering our efforts – the only telecom grant the state has awarded – what was once a dream is well on its way to becoming reality.

Read about our board members

About Us

Northwest Connect is about bringing our region into the future.  A fiber optic network will be an essential utility at some time for every community in the country.  We work to make our region the first in the country to make this leap as a region.

A fiber optic network will enable economic development with younger people moving here to work; it will enable us to enhance our mobile network; the combination will promote safety, health care services, real estate values, education, recreation, the digital home, and a host of other benefits without losing the character of our region we have grown to love.

Why a Region

We need a regional network.  Perhaps most important is the circumstance that no private partner would do just one town or even a few of the smaller towns.  A partner will need at least 20,000 homes to create economies of scale and make the numbers run.  But there are other reasons.  Many of our communities cannot provide an entire package for economic development, but the region can.  Some of our most serious future problems will demand regional solutions—healthcare facilities, regional safety, shared fire and EMS services.  And a regional network will enable local call centers and home-grown maintenance.  Imagine calling your network provider and the person answering the phone actually lives here.  Creating job growth is another benefit our region will realize – jobs for our neighbors and for the young people we seek to attract to the region.