CATSKILL, NY (NEWS10) – At its meeting on Monday, Nov. 14, the Greene County Legislature authorized the execution of three contracts with local Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including Mid-Hudson Cable, Margaretville Telephone Company and Charter Communications providing funding to help install high-speed fiber optic internet in unserved areas of Greene County.
Greene County’s Departments of Planning, Economic Development, and Property Tax Services have requested proposals from ISPs interested in installing high-speed fiber Internet. As part of the process, the county partnered with local ISPs to inventory and map the proverbial “last mile” of unserved roads and households without internet access.
In this unique public/private partnership, the county is contributing $2.2 million that will fund the installation of high-speed fiber Internet to approximately 1,400 addresses and 112 miles of unserved roads. The county contribution will fund the most difficult last mile roads.
ISPs will continue to build routes with high-speed internet in the normal course of business to approximately 725 addresses and 47 route miles. With the completion of this effort, virtually all existing addresses in Greene County that currently have electrical service (on the grid) will have access to high-speed Internet. The county’s RFP called for proposals in defined target areas across the county, with the majority of unserved roads concentrated at the top of the mountain, particularly parts of the cities of Catskill, Durham, Windham, Ashland and Prattsville.
“Greene County is able to make this important infrastructure investment with a portion of the federal funding it received under the American Rescue Plan Act,” said Patrick S. Linger, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. of Greene County. “Therefore, it will not impose any additional burden on our taxpayers and will provide access to a service essential to the way we live, work and learn.”
The Greene County Broadband “Get Better Connected” initiative brought together an unprecedented consortium of county departments, expert consultants and private broadband service providers to develop a plan and implement solutions. “Data sharing, partnerships with our local ISPs, and a tailored approach tailored to rural counties have proven key to making this happen,” said Warren Hart, deputy county administrator.
“This is great news for Greene County,” noted Hart. “Early on, we understood the need to take a leadership role in this area and that the solution was detailed street level mapping and not the census block level approach previously supported by the state. and the federal government. It was an ambitious plan that required enormous effort.
Legislator Linda Overbaugh, who chairs the county’s economic development committee, believes this program will attract both businesses and remote workers to Greene County in an unprecedented way. “Fiber optic broadband allows people to work from anywhere that has connectivity,” she said. “Businesses looking to relocate or expand into our communities can now be confident that they will have access to this service so critical to their operations. »
“Affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband has been a top concern for the Greene County Legislature. The realities of remote learning have also become painfully apparent as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes Majority Leader Matt Luvera. “As a local educator, I have experienced first-hand the challenges associated with teaching online. The success of this effort is a big step forward in giving families the tools to access the internet from home. and to help their children succeed in school.
Minority Leader Harry Lennon said: “Telecommunications infrastructure and broadband service have transformed the way people, public organizations and businesses communicate, educate, work and live. Broadband and the fiber optic backbones that support it have undeniably become the “interstate highway” of the 21st century.
After the awards, the county will prepare contracts with each of the three ISPs that will include a schedule for construction activities. It is expected that ISPs will continue their existing network extensions as well as the construction of fiber optic lines with county funds during the 2023 and 2024 construction seasons.
The construction schedule is largely dictated by local utility company “readiness” requirements, which include engineering, surveying, licensing, and pole replacement. Construction may also be affected by current challenges with supplies, inflation and labor.
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