County expects new broadband system to be ready in first quarter of 2023

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 October 2022 at 2:01 pm

$598K grant will pay for hookups for low- to moderate-income households in towns of Albion, Gaines, Shelby and the villages of Albion, Holley and Medina

ALBION – Orleans County officials say the new high-speed internet system being installed by RTO Wireless should be in place and activated in the first quarter of 2023.

RTO has been working to put its equipment on 13 towers with a 14th and final tower to be built in Carlton next year.

County officials have been pushing for about a decade to have high-speed internet service available throughout the county. The new system will cover the entire county, including current unserved addresses that total 74 in Albion, 302 in Barre, 35 in Carlton, 57 in Clarendon, 39 in Gaines, 16 in Kendall, 41 in Murray, 287 in Ridgeway, 206 in Shelby, and 294 in Yates for 1,351 total.

County officials say they are also close to finalizing an agreement with the Orleans County United Way to manage a $598,000 grant to cover the costs for low- to moderate-income homes to install the equipment in their homes to access the high-speed internet. That grant covers the towns of Albion, Gaines and Shelby, and the villages of Albion, Holley and Medina.

That funding was part of a $1,999,833 grant initially awarded to the county on Nov. 10, 2021. That money was approved from the state Housing Trust Fund Corporation and the Office of Community Renewal and included money from the NYS Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES).

The household hook-up grants are up to $650 per household for the equipment to be connected to the new system.

The rest of the grant for $1,999,833 goes towards the cost of the equipment being installed on the towers, said Jack Welch, the county’s chief administrative officer.

Welch said the United Way will help recruit the eligible households in the low- to moderate-income towns and villages to install the equipment and have access to the internet.

“The United Way will be working with RTO on the rollout of the service to our residents in the towns of Albion, Gaines, Shelby and the villages of Albion, Holley and Medina,” Welch said. “We expect the real push should begin the first quarter of 2023 when the signal is on the air from the towers.”

Even those who aren’t eligible for the grant assistance will see benefits with the RTO Wireless system being available locally, Welch said.

“This project should help people county wide, even in the other seven towns and Lyndonville,” he said. “Everyone will now have real choice in broadband service.”