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Local News

March 6, 2013

Otsego gets grant to expand broadband

COOPERSTOWN — Residents of rural towns and villages throughout Otsego County may soon be able to subscribe to a wireless internet connection thanks to a state-granted windfall of nearly $560,000 intended to make broadband more accessible.

The Connect NY grant, totaling $558,940, is being awarded to the Otsego County Industrial Development Authority to provide so-called “last mile wireless broadband” in response to an application packaged by county economic developer Carolyn Lewis, state and local officials said.

The build-out of the network could begin in as soon as three months, said Michael Spagnola, president of Comp Direct USA, an Oneida County-based company that would act as the service provider for those who subscribe.

Lewis said the monthly fee to connect is expected to be roughly $40 a month.

She said the cost of extending hard-wire Internet service to rural communities is viewed by many service providers as too expensive based on the expected return. The state grant money will cover the cost of the build-out of the wireless system, she said.

“As the technology grows, we believe the system will grow with it,” Lewis said.

Spagnola said the company will not provide service in areas that already have access to six megabytes or more of download speed.

“At this time right now, we don’t plan to sell in an area that Time Warner is in,” he said.

Tentative plans call for the wireless service to be installed initially in Edmeston and Burlington Flats, and then to other communities, Spagnola said.

Lewis said the need for providing broadband service to rural communities was one of the most discussed topics at an economic development conference sponsored by Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, last year in Cooperstown.

“I’m optimistic we will be able to reach large numbers of people who currently do not have service,” Lewis said.

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