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Senator Schumer Promotes Western NY Fiber Project: “Fiber Optic Broadband is the Erie Canal of the 21st Century”

Phillip Dampier April 5, 2010 Broadband Speed, Competition, Public Policy & Gov't, Rural Broadband, Video No Comments

Ontario County, New York

Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) visited Canandaigua Monday to promote Ontario County’s fiber optic broadband project, in hopes of securing federal funding to expand the fiber project into adjacent counties in the Rochester-Finger Lakes region.

Schumer likened fiber optic broadband development to other revolutionary transportation projects in New York’s past which transformed local economies, created jobs, and brought prestige to the region.

“One fact has proven true since the days of the Erie Canal: if you don’t have good infrastructure, you’re not gonna bring jobs, but when you do have good infrastructure, you are gonna bring jobs. And the fiber optic ring that we are talking about here in Ontario County is the Erie Canal of the 21st century. It’s that simple,” Schumer told an audience at the Center for Infotonics.

Ontario County began constructing a fiber ring more than a decade ago to improve connectivity across the often-rural county.  Bookmarked between high growth areas around Victor and Canandaigua to the east and Geneva to the west, large expanses of Ontario County are rural. Being a part of central New York’s Finger Lakes Region means the often hilly terrain and winding roads can make wiring expensive and difficult in certain areas.  But the prospect for 21st century connectivity has helped fuel growth — and jobs — into the region.

Sen. Schumer

Schumer wants FCC officials to visit Ontario County to explore the project as a potential blueprint for wiring other counties.

“We will not only put this region at the cutting edge of attracting new businesses that need high speed fiber optics, but we’ll do a service to the rest of the country by showing them how it can work,” said Schumer.

New York’s senior senator said he will aggressively pursue millions in federal funding to expand the project outside of Ontario County, and help complete the fiber optic network.

The senator may find some opposition to federal funding initiatives from incumbent providers Frontier Communications and Time Warner Cable, particularly if funds originate from broadband stimulus programs.  Both companies would likely object to federal spending on a fiber network that crosses areas both companies already serve.

Frontier Communications offers DSL service in many parts of Ontario County, and Time Warner Cable has wired most of the significant-sized towns and cities in the county.

The Ontario County project has been built without any federal stimulus money.

Sen. Schumer’s visit to Canandaigua, New York to promote Ontario County’s fiber project was covered in these three reports from YNN, WROC-TV, and WHAM-TV — all in Rochester, New York.  (6 minutes)

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