Orleans hires company to help with Broadband study

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 March 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Orleans County officials are pushing to expand high-speed Internet to areas in the county without the service.

First, the county and local municipal officials need to know precisely which houses have access to the service and which don’t.

The county is working with town governments in the 10 towns to create a database of vertical assets that could be used to mount equipment for wireless Internet. The towns will also try to document which sections of roads have access to cable and high-speed Internet.

BP Greene, a Holley company, will work with the towns and county to help determine where the service currently is provided. BP Greene also has been hired to prepare a Request For Proposals for Internet service providers to expand service in Orleans. The County Legislature last week approved paying BP Greene $27,980 for its work on the project.

Town supervisors and county officials have been working on the issue for about three years. Pockets of the county have very limited service and that hurts residents’ ability to use the Internet for school homework, to apply for jobs on-line and run businesses, Legislature Chairman David Callard has said.

The county has heard anecdotally that service is spotty in Orleans. But Callard said the service providers claim 95 percent of the county is covered with high-speed Internet, a figure that the towns and county say is an overexaggeration.

The work from the towns and BP Greene should provide accurate data on access to the service. Callard expects the study will show gaps in coverage in the county.

“If we can demonstrate the need, we may be able to get a grant to expand the service,” he said.

The state has been providing resources to expand the service in rural, underserved areas. In December, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $14.5 million in state funds for nine broadband projects that will expand access to broadband services for nearly 30,000 residents and more than 2,000 businesses in Upstate New York.

Callard said he expects the study will produce needed data for the towns and county to determine the next step in expanding high-speed Internet.

“We want to make a determination this year,” he said.