press release

Sullivan’s wireless broadband project gets funding

Posted 11/4/20

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Connecting Sullivan County through “point-to-point” wireless technology was merely an idea last August. Now it has funding.

Last week, Sen. Jen Metzger …

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press release

Sullivan’s wireless broadband project gets funding

Posted

SULLIVAN COUNTY, NY — Connecting Sullivan County through “point-to-point” wireless technology was merely an idea last August. Now it has funding.

Last week, Sen. Jen Metzger announced that a $425,000 State and Municipal Facilities Capital (SAM) grant was awarded to the wireless broadband project. The project will address unmet and increasingly vital telecommunications needs through the development of a countywide wireless broadband network. It includes mounting communications equipment on newly constructed and existing towers to establish and increase signal reach for LTE wireless broadband transmission. The grant funding secured by Metzger will cover the construction of a new communication tower at the Health and Human Services Complex in the Town of Liberty, enabling coverage to more than 1,700 households in the town and neighboring communities and serving as a critical node in Sullivan’s countywide project. Equipment installation for the county’s wireless broadband network pilot in Monticello is currently underway.

“Long before COVID-19, lack of access to high-speed internet has limited economic and educational
opportunities in our region. The pandemic has only magnified the disadvantages of being without internet when it comes to school, work, health care and daily living,” Metzger said. “I’m thrilled to partner with Sullivan County in expanding municipal broadband service, and will continue to work to fully close the gaps in service and affordability. At the state level, we need the governor to sign my Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act, which passed the state legislature with wide bipartisan support in July.”

Once additional grant funding is secured, a total of 13 towers will have the capacity to broadcast coverage to nearly 65 percent of the county’s residential population.

“Broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity in Sullivan County, and the county legislature decided action is required now,” said county manager Joshua A. Potosek. “We aren’t waiting for the economics to become palatable to private industry, and I’d like to thank Sen. Metzger for facilitating the funding for this much-needed project.”

“I truly believe this project has the potential to transform Sullivan County, similar to how telephone and electric service transformed our region a century ago,” said Lorne Green, commissioner of Sullivan County’s Information Technology Services and progenitor of this pilot project. “With Sen. Metzger’s support and the legislature’s commitment, we are close to debuting an incredible new service that promises to make a meaningful difference in many lives.”

In July, Metzger’s broadband legislation (S8805) recognizing access to high-speed internet as a right of all New Yorkers and essential to economic and social well-being and public safety passed the Senate nearly unanimously. The bill (formerly S5696A) directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to study the availability, affordability and reliability of high-speed internet and broadband access in New York State and produce a detailed access map on its website that indicates internet service by location. The legislation also requires the PSC to hold a minimum of four regional public hearings across the state and submit a report on its findings to the governor and legislature within one year to prioritize broadband access for communities that have experienced negative economic and social impacts due to absent or insufficient service.

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