Tompkins County Broadband Plan
In Tompkins County, there are more than 2,000 people that do not have access to high speed internet, and county leaders say that needs to change.
October 8, 2012
Tompkins County (WENY) - In Tompkins County, there are more than 2,000 people that do not have access to high speed internet, and county leaders say that needs to change. The Tompkins County Legislature has applied for $3 million of state money that will go towards building a basic infrastructure for broadband. Right now it doesn't make business sense for a private company to build the infrastructure for these rural homes. The grant money would be used in a private-public partnership. Tompkins county legislator Nate Shinagawa is currently campaigning for Congress, but for the past two years he's been fighting to get people internet in Tompkins county.
“I think this is a great example of public and private partnership where the government is working with the private sector to do something that's important for the community like laying this critical infrastructure down,” says Shinagawa. “You can live without internet but when your living you're left behind because so much of what we get on the media these days and being able to shop online and start a small business and sell your goods to the entire world. You need broadband internet technology to do that.”
Chairman of the Special Committee on Broadband Pat Pryor says it comes down to basic supply and demand. A phone company wont spend the money to install the system if they won't break even on their investment.
“The risk of installing the system, and there aren't enough potential customers within a short distance to give them the kind of return on investment that their business requires,” says Pryor.
The legislature has enlisted the help of Clarity Connect. Clarity needs $3 million to build basic infrastructure for 98 percent of the people that currently don't have high speed access. The company is also aiming to teach people how to use the internet as well.
“Once you have access available people need to have the tools they need the skills they need in order to use the digital access. There needs to be digital literacy so to speak,” says Pryor.
The grant application is part of the Regional Economic Development Council's proposal to the state.