By Barry Leemann, Chairman, Oswego County Legislature
Over the past several months I have received many calls from people asking about the progress of a high-speed Internet provider for the rural areas of Oswego County. Residents had indicated in a countywide survey that they were very interested in having high-speed Internet service, and we were hopeful that the county would be able to leverage some of the federal stimulus money that was designated for high-speed Internet projects. Although the county applied for several grants, unfortunately federal funds in this region were not allocated to installing high-speed Internet service.
We realize the importance of high-speed Internet access and we will continue to pursue funding options. At this time, however, the county can’t pursue a large-scale Internet project without a source of adequate funding.
In Parish, a group of residents has taken on a grass roots effort to bring a high speed fiber broadband network to the town and village. The local Economic Development Task Force named broadband service a priority a few years ago. Citizens are working with New Visions PLC of Syracuse, the same company that the county worked with in its grant applications. New Visions has proposed packages for telephone, high-speed Internet, and cable TV service in the community. If enough people indicate that they are interested, New Visions will build a high speed fiber broadband network in Parish.
The group has collected more than 400 signatures from town and village residents stating their interest in switching their services over the New Visions. They need about 50 more signed forms. Any resident who is interested and wants additional information can go to the Greater Parish Area Chamber of Commerce Web site at http://parishchamberofcommerce.parish-ny.com/. Completed forms are being collected in the lobby of the Mills and Petrie Memorial Gymnasium and the Grist Mill Restaurant.
New York State received money through the federal stimulus funds to conduct research across the state for broadband mapping and planning activities. As a result, the state Office of Cyber Security developed a broadband mapping Web site and is collecting data from consumers on their location and broadband speeds.
I recommend that residents take an online speed test to measure the speed of their Internet service. The results will help determine the effectiveness of existing services and hopefully will help municipalities and organizations leverage grant money for Internet infrastructure development across the rural areas. To take the test and check the efficiency of your Internet provider, visit www.nyspeedtest.org
The county will continue to pursue grant opportunities for developing a broadband Internet service in our rural areas. Residents who want more information about the broadband mapping project and available service providers in their neighborhood can go to http://www.broadbandmap.ny.gov/