By FRANK DIFIORE FDIFIORE@MTELEGRAM.COM
MALONE — New York state is still aiming to have 100 percent broadband coverage by the end of 2019, despite an ongoing feud with a major service provider.
David Wolff, chairman of the broadband committee for ADK Action, met with Franklin County legislators on Thursday to provide an update on the pace of the state’s broadband expansion.
There are two major initiatives to expand broadband coverage in New York state, according to Wolff: the state’s New NY Broadband Initiative and a planned expansion by Charter Communications/Spectrum.
The New NY program is aimed at extending high-speed internet access to underserved areas, particularly rural areas, by leveraging both public spending and private investment.
The New NY program awarded contracts for services in several census blocks across the state. Wolff noted that the state aims to have expansions for the initiative’s Phase 1 and 2 completed by the end of the year, with Phase 3 — when much of Franklin County’s expansions are scheduled — is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2019.
Spectrum’s expansion, meanwhile, came as a result of the company’s merger with Time Warner Cable, which was approved by the Public Services Commission in 2016. The merger approval requires the company to extend its network to pass an additional 145,000 homes and businesses across the state by 2020.
However, Spectrum’s owner, Charter Communications, was ordered by the PSC to leave New York state next year after failing to meet broadband expansion promises that were a condition of the PSC’s approval of the merger between Time Warner and Charter. The two sides are reportedly in negotiations that could result in Spectrum/Charter remaining in the state.
While the dispute rages, Spectrum crews continue to string the cables that would expand the company’s reach.
Wolff specifically asked county legislators to help their constituents learn if they “fall between the gaps” of the two expansion projects.
The state Broadband Program Office, for instance, has a database on the state’s website to help residents track what companies are able to extend service to them.
The website can be found at https://nysbroadband.ny.gov/resources/residential-broadband.
Wolff displayed a map of Malone to demonstrate both Spectrum’s area of operations and the census blocks awarded in the New NY Broadband Initiative. Roughly half of the town is designated as a Spectrum service area; the remaining blocks have been allocated to HughesNet and Slic Network Solutions.