THURMAN -- The town’s cutting-edge white space technology project could be up and running by year’s end, which would allow some residents to drop their dial-up connections.
The toughest part of the project was completing a propagation study earlier this year. Now, putting the four telephone poles up and ordering and installing the electrical equipment are the only things standing between the town “and the finish line,” said Fred Engelmann of the Chester-based Rainmaker Network Service LLC, which submitted a bid to the town for the system’s construction.
The initial phase of the project will be concentrated in the northwest section of the town, bringing broadband access to 80 to 90 households, Engelmann said.
That part of the town was deemed the most underserved area. Limited DSL service is available in the southeastern portion of the town, and an AT&T tower in the northwest section of the town provides some coverage, Engelmann said.
The Town Board on Tuesday opened bids on the project. The sole bid came from Rainmaker, for a cost of $166,766. The town had previously solicited a round of bids, but because an incorrect date was logged in meeting minutes, those were thrown out and the project was re-bid.
About $200,000 in state funding was released earlier this year for the project, but before awarding the bid, town officials need to make sure funding requirements are met to source a portion of the work to women- or minority-owned businesses, Supervisor Evelyn Wood said.
Engelmann said some of the equipment and electrical labor for the project could be sourced from women- and minority-owned businesses to meet that threshold.
As soon as the telephone poles go up and the equipment is ordered, the system can be turned on, Engelmann said.
The proposed coverage area extends from the town’s border with Johnsburg south along South Johnsburg and Mountain Roads, west along Garnet Lake Road and east along Valley Road.
Town officials are still negotiating with Verizon and Frontier, because the system will have to tap into one of those companies’ fiberoptic lines in the area, Wood said.
White space technology isn’t as inhibited by trees and mountains as wi-fi technology, making it a better option for rural communities like Thurman.
Once the first part of the project is in place, the goal is to pursue additional funding for a buildout that would likely concentrate on the Dippikill Road area.
“A lot of people have the idea that this is a magic bullet that will serve the whole town, and that’s not the case,” Engelmann said of the project’s first phase. “It’s a large project.”
Wood hopes the project could be done by the end of November or December. She sees the white space project as having a “very positive impact” on the community, she said.
There are businesses and residents who work at home, and school work for children is increasingly relying on online resources — all of those people will benefit from the increased access, Wood said.