EDC Advocates for Expanded Broadband Coverage in Warren County, NY

Today, EDC Warren County, together with an alliance of six Adirondack counties and four broadband providers with assets in the region applied for an NTIA National Telecommunications and Information Administration grant that will lead to projects providing an estimated $20 million in work extending high-speed broadband to more than 3,000 unserved and underserved homes and businesses located across the region. This grant application process evolved from EDC’s broadband assessment and survey which began last September and ran through April 2021. The subsequent reports produced by the consultant (ECC Technologies) provided the basis for Warren County’s submission of over 400 unserved and underserved addresses in this grant.

The multi-county, multi-provider approach taken in the grant application is the first of its kind working across large areas of the Adirondack Park and provides a model we believe to prepare for additional anticipated federal and NYS grant opportunities moving in our direction in coming months and years.

NTIA expects to begin making award notifications in late November 2021. We have put together the most competitive grant application possible and will hope the NTIA looks favorably on our submission.

We want to acknowledge the invaluable contribution made to this application by Beth Gilles at the Lake Champlain Lake George Regional Planning Board who did an incredible job preparing the grant application materials and coordinating with all the providers on technical data, mapping, etc. during this process which lasted for months. Also, special thanks to Sara Frankenfeld for her unique mapping expertise which helped tremendously and that is second to none. We thank the Warren County Board of Supervisors for its support of EDC and the work we do for all the residents and businesses in Warren County.

See our press release below:

Six Adirondack Counties Join Together to Apply for Major Broadband Grant

North Country Broadband Alliance Seeks to Bring Reliable, High-speed Service to Nearly 3,000 Homes, Businesses, and Institutions

 In a historic display of inter-municipal collaboration in the Adirondack Region, six area counties have joined together to apply for a major federal grant to help bring high-speed broadband to nearly 3,000 homes, businesses, and institutions in critically unserved or underserved areas.

Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Warren, and Washington counties are jointly applying to the most recent broadband grant program from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for the North Country Broadband Deployment Program. They are being assisted in their efforts by the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board and EDC Warren County.

The counties and four participating broadband providers – Charter/Spectrum, SLIC Network Solutions, Champlain Technology Group, and Hudson Valley Wireless — have jointly committed to self-funding at least 10% of the project’s cost, with a goal of enhancing the application’s chances in what is expected to be a highly competitive nationwide review process. With the committed matching funds to date, nearly $20 million dollars of broadband expansion is expected from the project.

“Warren County is proud to join in this regional effort to address a critically important, shared challenge together,” said Andrea Hogan, supervisor of the Town of Johnsburg and chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ Economic Growth & Development Committee.

“Inadequate technology infrastructure is perhaps the single greatest consequential challenge facing our region,” said William Farber, chair of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, supervisor of the Town of Morehouse, and one of the leading voices on Broadband and Cellular in the Adirondacks for many years. “The digital divide jeopardizes public health and safety, greatly impedes economic growth, and restricts the quality of life for residents and visitors. We have intuitively known this for some time, but the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the consequences in no uncertain terms. Broadband and Cellular are critical infrastructures. Efforts in Washington show that the Federal Government strongly agrees.”

The counties’ grant application recounts that 30% of telehealth sessions in the region failed during the early days of the pandemic, according to research conducted by the Adirondack Health Institute. In addition, the application tells of students who were forced to sit in the parking lots of Wi-Fi-accessible public buildings in order to download classroom assignments, and school districts that had to mail hard-copy homework packets to students’ homes.

The economic case for expanding broadband is also compelling. Local businesses have long struggled with inadequate coverage as they attempted to implement online shopping and other modern-day business practices. Similarly, lack of coverage has hindered people’s ability to relocate and work remotely from the region during the pandemic, or to establish new craft industries here.

The application calls for bringing broadband to nearly 3,000 homes, businesses, and institutions in areas determined by the respective counties to be in greatest need of service.

Upon project completion, all the sites would meet or exceed 25 Mbps download speed, the minimum established by the NTIA to qualify as high-speed broadband. If successful, the counties hope this will be the first phase in a comprehensive initiative to bring broadband to all locations within their borders.

“The days of talking about regionalization in the Adirondacks are over. We’re doing it,” said Jim Siplon, president of EDC Warren County. “The energy and enthusiasm that county leaders have brought to this project are contagious and I’m confident it will lead to even more collaborative efforts going forward, whether it be further broadband expansion, housing, transportation, or any of the multitude of issues in which we share challenges and opportunities.”