Easton is known for its family farms and rustic charm, but access to high-speed internet doesn’t top the list. Dropped connections. Content streaming lags. Slow downloads. You name it. It’s gotten so bad that the town recently installed free Wi-Fi at the library’s parking lot for residents to access the internet.
So when Easton resident Jamie Weinstein spotted a lineman with Frontier Communications wiring high-speed fiber-optic cable at Center and Westport Roads, he had to share the news on Facebook.
“He (the lineman) said that Frontier was making a big push to get … Easton wired for fiber optic to the point where they were hiring contracting crews to do the side roads to get the job done faster,” Weinstein wrote on Facebook’s Easton 411 group page.
The response to Weinstein’s post drew cheers, prayers, and glimmers of hope. Fiber optic is the fastest internet service available. Fiber cables transmit data through beams of light upwards of 20 times faster than copper cables.
“Sign me up. I’ll be a pilot. I’ll pay extra,” said Paul Yauger when he heard the news.
Yauger’s slow internet from Optimum goes beyond not being able to watch Netflix. It’s impacting his livelihood and raising his stress levels. He’s had to drive to a parking lot to use the cellular data on his phone to video conference for work.
“It’s terrible. It drops fifty times a day. It freezes up. It’s down more than it’s up,” said Yauger, who moved to Easton from Fairfield last year.
Easton wasn’t on the list of communities when Frontier announced it was rolling out its fiber optic network last year. But First Selectman David Bindelglass has been working behind the scenes to get Frontier to expand into Easton. He’s encouraged competition between Frontier and Optimum, the town’s two major internet providers. He’s also talked to Gonetspeed, a Rochester, N.Y.- based telecommunications company that promises “freakishly fast high-speed internet.”
“They (Frontier ) have already begun to do some laying of cable and will work with the town and public works to do more…. The competition that we have helped to create is also driving Optimum to “up their game and make improvements in town as well,” Bindelglass said in a Feb. 11 message. “We are keeping Gonetspeed in the mix as well. All of these steps should bring us better internet service.”
Bindelglass understands some residents might be skeptical of Frontier. The Norwalk-based telecommunications has been criticized for its unreliable customer service, but he said the company told him since coming out of bankruptcy they are doing much better. Frontier emerged out of bankruptcy last year after filing for Chapter 11 protection in May 2020.
On Friday, Weinstein posted an internet-related update on social media. Frontier installed fiber-optic internet at his house. His internet speed now clocks in at 920 megabits per second (mbps), compared to 370 mbps he got before the hook up. He couldn’t be happier.
“Installation went very well! Service is up and running and doing great,” he said.
For those still waiting for faster internet service hookups, they can access free Wi-Fi in the library parking lot. Residents just need to join the Easton PL Wi-Fi router in their network settings. A password isn’t needed. Plans to install free Wi-Fi at other town buildings are also in the works.