VIENNA — County Executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. today announced that nearly 1,000 homes and 2,600 residents will be receiving high-speed internet service as part of $2 million in county broadband expansion projects.
“We are committed to bridging the gaps that became evident during the pandemic,” Picente said. “Lack of high-speed internet creates an inequity that puts students at a disadvantage, leaves businesses unable to modernize and limits growth in communities. Broadband is something everyone should have access to and this is a step toward making that a reality for everyone in Oneida County.”
The broadband expansion projects will span 10 areas, including six townships: Forestport, Ava, Boonville, Remsen, Augusta and Vienna. Two Internet service providers have been chosen through an RFP process: Adirondack Techs (nine project areas) and Charter (one area).
The $1,950,967 capital program also includes $150,000 in ISP investment, and nine of the 10 projects include a 2% revenue share to offset a percentage of the cost to the county.
Through an extensive mapping analysis between Oneida and Herkimer counties, Tug Hill Commission and Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, the Oneida County Department of Planning identified 2,079 Oneida County homes in approximately 32 project areas with clusters of 20 or more homes. This first step will reach 46% of the unserved homes identified.
Oneida County offered municipalities an opportunity to partner financially and leverage the funding to expand coverage even further in their towns. Picente made the expansion projects announcement in the Town of Vienna, which was the only one to take advantage of that offer and led to the town securing $226,761 to service 111 homes.
“Since becoming Town Supervisor, the expansion of internet service is something I hear about most often from residents and was an issue I have looked to tackle since day one,” said Vienna Town Supervisor Michael M. Davis Sr. “I thank County Executive Picente for his commitment to this expansion and I look forward to working with the Department of Planning to bring internet access to over 100 homes in Vienna.”
Picente utilized American Rescue Act funding to expand high speed internet service to underserved areas in Oneida County. That federal funding is required to be allocated by 2024 and spent by 2026. It must be used on projects, initiatives or programs that address issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Today’s announcement about the expansion of increased broadband access in Vienna is a welcomed and awaited one,” said County Legislator Norman Leach, R-3. “Broadband service is critically important in today’s society. Students need it for their schoolwork. Adults need it to stay in touch with co-workers when out of the office or for telecommuting. And people of all ages need it for telemedicine.”
“I am pleased to support these efforts to bring high-speed internet connectivity to underserved parts of rural Oneida County like Ava, Boonville, Forestport and Remsen,” said County Legislator Steven R. Boucher, R-6. “This investment in broadband infrastructure is a necessity for my constituents and not a luxury.”
“The lack of reliable, high-speed internet can be a major hindrance on the quality of life of residents,” said County Legislator Colin Idzi, R-2. “That’s why I am pleased that broadband is being expanded to help residents in rural areas like Augusta meet important daily needs such as paying bills, telehealth appointments, shopping, job searches and applications, education and so much more."