Residents encouraged to consider new wireless internet provider in Orleans County

Provided photos: (Left) A sign notes this Ambient Broadband customer is saving money by dropping cable and getting the service through wireless internet. Nyla Gaylord, coordinator for United Way’s Connect Orleans collaborative, points to a map showing the new towers.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 2 June 2023 at 10:56 am

Team from United Way available to help access free installation, discounted rate for low to moderate income households

ALBION – “The internet has changed our world,” said Nyla Gaylord, grant writer for United Way of Orleans County and coordinator for United Way’s Connect Orleans collaborative.

Gaylord is part of the initiative to bring affordable wireless broadband to every resident of Orleans County. Online shopping, social media, phone and video calling, e-mail, banking, live sports events, music, television shows, news, movies, and more, are all now just a click away, – “If it is available, If you can afford it and If you know how to use it,” she said.

County officials have been pushing for about a decade to have high-speed internet service available throughout the county.

Sharon Quill

Gaylord and the United Way team of two Connect Orleans outreach workers, Sharon Quill and Karen Sanders, are helping low-to-moderate income households in the villages of Albion, Holley, and Medina and the towns of Albion, Gaines and Shelby prequalify for a grant that pays for free installation of wireless broadband service and free equipment, a $650 benefit.

These communities are targeted because at least 51 percent of households meet the criteria for having low to moderate income. They are also screening people to see if they qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) which can save them $30 a month.

In partnership with the Orleans Digital Literacy Initiative, funded by the United Way, the team connects people with digital literacy mentors who offer one-on-one coaching in how to use internet-based technology like smart TV’s, phones, tablets and more.

“What we are finding is that most people can significantly lower the cost of their internet service by unbundling from cable and switching to wireless broadband. Some people are saving over $100 a month,” Gaylord said.

The difference between cable and wireless technology is that cable comes through a wire, such as phone lines, while broadband comes through the air.  The new Ambient wireless broadband service, sponsored by Orleans County using federal funding, will significantly expand the availability of internet access, consumer choice in service providers and the opportunity to “unbundle” from cable packages and save money.

“Many people, especially older people and people with disabilities don’t know they now have options in how they get internet-based services – options that will save them money,” Gaylord said. “Change is hard. It is a bit scary to think about switching from cable to wireless. The cable companies want you to ‘bundle,’ but with this service, you get access to the internet and can subscribe to only the options you want. It is like ordering off a menu instead of buying a meal deal. That is why our Connect Orleans team is available to help every step of the way.”

Gaylord is enthusiastic about the work the United Way team is doing.

“The whole team is enjoying meeting people and talking to them about this new service,” she said.   “When we help people save money, or get internet access for the first time, we know we are really making a positive difference in their lives.”

This week, households in the villages of Albion, Holley and Medina and the towns of Albion, Gaines and Shelby will receive post cards in the mail with information on how to contact the Connect Orleans team for information on the new wireless broadband service and cost saving benefits, such free installation and a free wireless receiver.

This equipment will allow access to wireless internet services through Ambient Broadband and is funded by the Community Development Block Grant administered by Orleans County.  If residents are also eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) they can save $30 a month which would make the basic service free. The basic service enables users to email, browse the web, stream music and use social media. Three levels of data plans are available, depending on usage needs.

During the month of June, the Connect Orleans outreach workers will be available at the following locations:

Karen Sanders will be in Medina at the MAAC Thrift Depot at the corner of Starr and Orient streets in Medina on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Sharon Quill will be at Save-a-Lot in Albion on Thursdays and Fridays from 1 pm to 4 p.m.

Saturday, June 3, will be a busy day for the team. Sanders will be at the Medina Community Yard Sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., while Quill is at the Holley June Fest.

The following weekend the Connect Orleans team will be at the Strawberry Festival near the Bounce for Bullard activities near the canal bridge.

As weather permits, Sanders and Quill will be doing “pop-ups” outdoors in the Holley, Medina and Albion area. Orleans County residents will be able to stop by and learn more about service availability and their options for using lower cost wireless broadband service.

The team will be distributing free recyclable grocery bags from 211 of Western New York and will have information on how to unbundle from cable service and use common streaming services such as Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix, as well as free entertainment options such as Amazon Freevee and Roku channels.

To schedule a time to talk to a Connect Orleans team member, call (585) 493-6014 and leave a message. The Connect Orleans website has information and a contact form, or email:

211 of Western New York can take calls 24/7 and will route the contact information to Connect Orleans. Every effort will be made to return all calls and contacts within 24 hours on business days.

Households not eligible for the free installation and free equipment can purchase the Ambient Broadband service directly through the company at