EDC Warren County Leads Landmark Effort to Increase Adirondack Broadband Coverage
EDC Warren County recognizes the vital role broadband plays not only in economic development but in critical aspects of everyday life such as education, health care, and connection. EDC has brought together a community of carriers, elected officials, not-for-profits, and everyday citizens, working together in the north country.
This coalition of people across the north country were mapping and surveying which helped carriers deploy 200-miles of fiber to more than 1,700 homes. EDC worked with that same group to build a six county NTIA grant to provide service to thousands more. There is a legislative forum later this week to continue this topic.
In the Fall of 2020, EDC assisted private internet provider Slic Network Solutions to gain an easement on county-owned land to install a switch cabinet capable of servicing fiber expansion in multiple rural towns. This 200-mile fiber expansion project brought broadband to more than 1,700 unserved rural homes in the towns of Johnsburg, Warrensburg, Thurman, and Stony Creek, plus another 1,000 homes were given access to other internet providers. This called for a large survey to learn what local households are experiencing and what areas of the county have the greatest need.
EDC Warren County commissioned and completed a comprehensive Broadband Assessment and Survey in the first quarter of 2021. More than 1,500 online surveys were predominantly from rural towns in Warren County. The completed survey identified five unserved areas in Warren County, into the Adirondack Park. This project started conversations across county lines warranting a need for progress.
Continuing the effort, EDC Warren County is working to expand broadband internet and has developed a multi-county, multi-provider collaboration called the North Country Broadband Alliance which strategizes together to pursue competitive federal grant funding. This alliance consists of local leaders and government officials working together with six Adirondack counties and four private internet providers. The alliance has filed for the first of several federal grants to address unserved and underserved homes in mostly rural mountainous areas. Beth Gilles, executive director of the Lake Champlain – Lake George Regional Planning board was the point person coordinating regional data and mapping. Sara Frankenfeld, Warren County GIS, was also instrumental in the progress made thus far. Hamilton County is the lead county on the grant application.
“Working in a collaborative effort made us more competitive for the grant as this is the first of its kind in our region.” states Jim Siplon, EDC Warren County President. “Forming the alliance just made sense. We all have the same need. Broadband is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity that will help us sustain our region.” Added John Wheatley, EDC Warren County Vice President.
The NTIA (National Telecommunications Information Administration) grant application was filed in August and awaiting notification of the grant status to implement an additional wave of work. The total homes applied for in the NTIA grant application was more than 3,000 across Warren, Washington, Essex, Hamilton, Franklin, and Clinton counties, with an anticipated total investment of $20 million from the project.