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Orleans continues push for high-speed Internet

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 February 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Orleans County officials are continuing the groundwork needed to bring high-speed Internet to pockets of the county without the service.

After a study of the vertical assets in three western Orleans towns – Shelby, Ridgeway and Yates – the study will be expanded to central and eastern towns. That inventory of water towers, silos and other tall structures will be shared with Internet service providers interested in bringing the service to the county.

County officials want to first discuss the vertical asset survey with the seven towns in central and eastern Orleans before committing to that study, said Legislature Chairman David Callard.

“We want to make sure there is enthusiasm coming from the other seven towns,” Callard said.

Once the county and towns have the inventory of vertical assets, they can work on a formal Request For Proposals from the service providers. Callard didn’t want to issue a timetable for when the service could be in place.

Several wireless Internet providers have already expressed interest in serving the county’s pockets without high-speed Internet.

Time Warner says 95 percent of the county has the service, but Callard and county officials dispute that figure. Callard said it could be as low as 50 percent. The four villages and the areas immediately by those population centers all have good coverage, Callard said.

“But there are a lot of rural expanses and the fringes without service,” he said.

The county and some of the towns have been trying for about four years to expand high-speed Internet in rural pockets without the service.

Time Warner has balked at running the cable in some rural areas, saying the potential for few customers at a $10,000-a-mile cost doesn’t make business sense. Going wireless may be the most cost-effective way to expand service.

The push for county-wide high-speed Internet access is seen as a top priority – for economic development and to keep and attract residents. Students can’t complete some of their homework and research without the Internet, officials said.