FORT EDWARD -- With $100,000 and a piecemeal approach, Washington County officials are hoping to broaden existing Internet connections throughout the county.

Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, said her office allocated the funding to Washington County for economic development in the spring of 2008, but that the county never claimed it.

Using the money to expand broadband Internet, Little said, would help attract businesses to the county, which would boost local economy.

Tori Riley, president and director of the Washington County Local Development Corp., said the money was originally assigned to three different economic development projects that "fell dead in the water."

But with the funds still available, Riley said the LDC and County Administrator Kevin Hayes thought there is no better way to use the funding than to start connecting some of the dots on broadband.

Of the $100,000, Riley said Little's office promised to give $20,000 to the town of Cambridge.

"They have been asking for a long time to improve the broadband in Cambridge," Little said.

"They have DSL with Verizon and it doesn't go all the way to the Town hall and the Town Court. It has a range, so you pick it up and they are beyond the range," she said.

Since he got elected as the Cambridge town supervisor, Little said, William "Beaver" Watkins has been calling her office to see if there is any way to expand the range.

Although a portion is slated for Cambridge, Riley said, she and Hayes thought it would be better for all county residents to find areas where they can bridge gaps between existing Internet connections, rather than dividing the money, so each individual township can work on their own.

"So we put together a map that shows where there is DSL, where there's cable and where there is no coverage at all," she said.

The map, which uses approximate data collected by the New York State Geographic Information Systems Clearinghouse through the state Office of Cyber Security, also designates municipal boundaries -- areas where the connection is a result of a municipal franchise agreement with a certain telephone and Internet carrier.

The local agreement is with the municipality and stipulates how the company operates in that community, including payment for the franchise fees and extension of cable, said Jennifer Reed Holick, a spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable.

"In terms of franchise fees, most communities elect to receive these fees and they are calculated as a percentage of gross revenues received in that community," she said.

With the coverage map, Riley said they were able to find mile-long stretches where there is a gap in the connection.

"If we started investing in that stretch, we could connect the cable, which will expand broadband and the accessibility for both residents and businesses, as well as benefit where there is available space and land for future businesses to come," she said.

Riley said the LDC is going to meet with Time Warner and Verizon to see which company would be willing to work with the county.

Although Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said the company probably wouldn't acknowledge any contractual conversations with Washington County, but added that part of Verizon's business is finding solutions to lack of coverage, whether it be through a wire connector or wireless broadband.

"My point is that anything is doable, but I don't know any particulars about what we proposed or what their needs are," he said.

Riley said the next step is to make recommendations to the Agriculture, Planning, Tourism and Community Development Committee as to how to proceed with utilizing the funds to expand broadband.

(8) comments

dds457
dds457

An interesting article for sure. So, communities like Argyle or Hartford, where there is no sewer or water wish to provide Broadband before basic utilities? If a business wanted to move to one of these communities they would surely order a T-1 high speed hi cap circuit from Verizon or one of the other carriers. This seems like an awful wast of money. If the county wants to encourage business to come to Washington county they should improve water and sewer and loosed the restrictions on construction and business growth.

WhatAWorld
WhatAWorld

I would trade my water, sewer and the quarterly bills that come with them for better broadband internet. At least with a well I could fell safe drinking from the tap.

NCC-1701
NCC-1701

Well, the range limit is NOT truly technical. Just NOT economical viable for Verizon. However, next door, in Vermont Telcos were required to offer service in a given market to anyone who asked IF the Telco had any existing customers providing such service.

New York is reluctant to make such a rule here. Why? In Vermont this was the case about 8 - 10 years ago ; I was visiting a rural business in new Haven, VT and the owner delighted in showing me his then new high speed internet connection.

I have been waiting a decade for high speed from Verizon. They keep saying it is not available. No problem. I no longer have Verizon telephone service! Thanks to wireless.

However, I understand that soon one of the cable companies will be offering 30 - 50 Megabit download and up to a few megabit upload speeds for an additional $20 or so for residential customers.

Before such funds are spent the agencies should be sure they have current information. Many new broadband initiatives coming.

observer11
observer11

Another waste of the taxpayers dollar. The lack of jobs in Washington County is not because there is no internet service, it is because there are no customers for business. If there is truly a business void then some business man would fill it. There is always Hughes Net.

Kreg
Kreg

How about communities with nothing? Hebron has no broadband. Use the money out there

DWC121
DWC121

NCC-1701 - And because Verizon could not make enough profit in Vermont, Verizon sold their Vermont territory to Fairpoint Communications a few years ago. The quality and reliability of landline service (and probably DSL) in Vermont supposedly took a nosedive then.

www.dslreports.com/shownews/Vermont-Fairpoint-Regulators-Show-A-Little-Backbone-109106

Perhaps we can encourage Verizon or another company to deploy LTE (Long-Term Evolution) or other wireless technology in Washington County. Unfortunately, now-a-days most every business will NOT expand or enlarge their operation _unless_ they can get a government subsidy or a tax break.

See also: www.computerworld.com/s/article/9214445/LightSquared_and_Open_Range_hope_to_extend_broadband_in_rural_U.S.

dds457
dds457

Verizon may not be able to provide individual broadband for residential locations, but a business paying for a high speed hi cap circiut to the internet always is provided for with Verizon, Verizon has the facilities to do that and of course the private sector that wants that service pays for it; the service isn't paid for by the county or the town it is a PRIVATE ENTERPRISE AND THEY PAY FOR IT THEMSELVES...it is part of the cost of doing business. In certain communities, Hartford being one of them, there is unlimited broadband available from CATV or Virgin Mobile. If you can get sprint cell service you can get their inexpensive unlimited wireless internet service served by the cell towers.

regarding the well water vs. broadband, if you live where a farmer is dumping his fertilizer on his land close to your well; well you do the math....

cutwaste
cutwaste

Broadband is an absolute minimum to attract business.
It is also essential for the modern family.
Route 4 in Kingsbury has been zoned commercial years ago but only has broadband upto The Hen House. This needs to change.
Let the town get some of those Washington D.C. handouts and improve Route 4 service to the Fort Ann line.

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