It's a pretty good bet that the first settlers to this area were not envisioning microwave towers, cell-phone towers or fiber-optic loops when they looked out across the landscape. For that matter, much of what is now being deemed vital to the region's future would have been unimaginable just 50 years ago.
Town of Oneonta officials have set a 180-day moratorium on cell-tower development as they try to craft regulations governing the placement and design of the structures.
Town Supervisor Robert Wood expressed confidence that the town would have a regulation in place well before the moratorium expires, which would be good to see. Residential and commercial growth in the West End, as well as in other areas, would be aided by improved cell-phone service.
In Otsego County, officials are struggling to update a 30-year-old system of microwave towers, while also seeking millions of dollars in federal funds to build a fiber-optic loop around the county.
The county is pursuing the two projects independently, but they are linked. The fiber-optic loop would be tied into the towers to both serve as a backup communications system while also allowing for multimedia communications for police, fire and emergency services.
While the broadband project is ambitious, and not inexpensive, we think planners were wise to suggest the loop be run on existing utility poles whenever possible. Previously, planners had suggested burying the entire line, which would have raised the cost considerably.
County Economic Developer Carolyn Lewis noted that the loop would be available to colleges, hospitals, businesses and telecommunications service providers. With large portions of the county lacking access to high-speed Internet, this project stands to make a major difference for these organizations. We hope it would also lead to more companies providing high-speed Internet access, offering more choices for consumers.
Bringing 21st-century communications to the region is not an easy task, but we're excited to see these changes being discussed. Visitors to this area may still see only the rolling hills and historic structures that tell of the region's past. But we hope companies will soon see that there is more to the Heartland of New York than just those aspects.
We hope prospective employers will see an area that is primed to welcome manufacturers, retailers and other commercial enterprises. We hope college graduates will see an area that is changing to offer new, exciting professional opportunities. Most of all, we hope the people who live here will agree that cell towers and fiber-optic lines, while not always beautiful to behold, can make life better for all of us.