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Town's internet upgrade means faster performance, big savings

Longboat Key’s IT department is working on switching town government to a faster, in-house network.

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Faster internet speeds are on the way for town facilities. 

With a new town fiber optic network, employees throughout the town facilities, such as the Tennis Center, Town Hall and Planning, Zoning and Building Department, are expected to receive improved performance and speed online.

The project focuses on the town’s physical network infrastructure, but also improves town wireless connections within town buildings. 

“Since all of our network and storage is at Town Hall, all the other facilities will now see a huge difference in speed,” Chief Information Officer Jason Keen said. 

Wilco Electrical LLC installed the hardware for the project, which included pulling and splicing new fiber cables for all town buildings.

Now that the installation is complete, the town’s information technology department is actively working to transfer buildings onto the new network and will continue to operate the service. 

The town’s current network runs on a 100 megabit speed, which Keen equates to “a really slow internet connection.” The new network will operate on a 10 gigabit backbone. 

“So now what this will do is it will increase (network connection), so that they will get better network performance,” Keen said. “It should also increase going through the internet for any cloud applications.” 

This also means saving money, now that the town isn’t paying for Comcast’s service. 

Currently, the town’s network is connected through Comcast. To save money, Keen said the town opted for a slower network speed in the agreement. This service costs around $35,000 a year, he said. 

Now that the town's IT department will manage the new network themselves, Keen said there won't be any annual operating costs. 

It’s been about a year since the town received the original proposal from Wilco, and it’s taken some time to install the new system. But Keen said bringing this network in has been his plan since the inception of the undergrounding project. 

Last year, the IT department also began replacing networking hardware to prepare for this switch. 

The IT department is also looking to expand the project to include “smart city” elements. 

To start, Keen said the department is working on implementing a pilot study to utilize traffic count technology on both ends of the island and camera technology at Bayfront Park. The smart city project could, in the future, include various sensors such as air quality. 

Additionally, wireless communications for town facilities, such as police and building inspectors, could be a future improvement with the smart cities technology. 



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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