Press-Republican

March 6, 2013

North Country broadband projects win big

DAN HEATH
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — With millions in broadband funding, some remote areas of the North Country will be closer to the rest of the world.

Projects in the towns of Bellmont, Dannemora, Schroon, North Hudson, Jay and Wilmington are getting a share of a total $25 million in Connect NY Broadband Grant Program funding.

The Bellmont North Next Generation Broadband project, awarded $1,012,366, is expected to bring 25.3 miles of fiber-optic cable to homes and businesses and a wireless network to connect 124 households. The Lyon Mountain Broadband project will get $976,426; that effort could serve up to 527 households in that hamlet, located in the Town of Dannemora.

Bellmont Town Supervisor H. Bruce Russell said those two networks will allow 100 percent coverage on both sides of the Chateaugay Lakes. Many of the seasonal residents of that area own businesses elsewhere, he said, and will be able to do more work online.

“I’m really happy because I think this will bring seasonal property owners in earlier and keep them here later,” he told the Press-Republican on Tuesday, after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced the funding.

Service is also expected to extend through the hamlet of Brainardsville and along Route 24 toward Malone, including the town offices. 

Russell said work could start as early as this spring.

Dannemora Town Supervisor Americo “Ves” Pivetta said it will be nice to see a remote area of his town receive service.

“As town supervisor, that’s great news,” he said. “Thank you to the state of New York.”

WIRELESS HOT SPOTS

Nicholville-based Slic Network Solutions is in charge of the Bellmont and Dannemora projects. The new network will also deliver telephone, Internet protocol television and advanced business services to those areas.

That company is also in charge of the Schroon Lake Next Generation Broadband project. Awarded $2,162,656, it will provide service to up to 457 households in the towns of Schroon and North Hudson through fiber-to-the-home technology.

Slic also plans to provide wireless hot spots at popular public locations such as the Schroon Lake Public Beach.

The Essex County Broadband Service expansion project is to get $557,000. That network is expected to reach 1,900 households in the towns of Jay and Wilmington. 

The lines can also provide digital video services and have the potential for a competitive telephone service.

In addition, the Statewide Broadband Expansion project was awarded $5,266,979. That money is to help Time Warner Cable bring high-speed Internet to 4,114 households in nine of the 10 Regional Economic Development Council areas, including the one that covers the North Country.

‘VERY BEST PROPOSALS’

North Country Chamber of Commerce President and North Country Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair Garry Douglas said the funding comes in addition to the $90.2 million awarded in the Regional Council competition in December 2012. 

It also represents an especially important commitment to one of the council’s key strategies, namely the continued extension of broadband access, he said.

“With these five major projects, totaling more than $5 million, thousands of Adirondack residents and small businesses will know the economic benefits of broadband and will be a part of 21st-century communications and opportunities,” he said by email. 

“We identified these proposals as priorities for the region, including Lyon Mountain, Bellmont, Schroon Lake, Jay and Wilmington, and once again, the state took note of our needs and input.”

Cuomo said in a statement that the Connect NY program is encouraging “sustainable adoption of broadband service in unserved and underserved communities, counties and regions across the state.”

The funding, he said, represents New York’s “largest single investment to bridge the digital divide” in the state’s history.

“The projects receiving these grants,” he said, “represent the very best proposals with the most potential to benefit statewide economic and community development efforts.” 

Email Dan Heath: dheath@pressrepublican.com