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Retired Verizon Employee Tells Rural Upstate New York “Fiber Optics is Old School”

Schuyler County

The fastest thing in Schuyler County, N.Y., isn’t broadband — it’s the Watkins Glen International speedway.

County officials hope to change that, voting unanimously this month to approve an agreement with the Southern Tier Network to bring a regional fiber optic system into the county.

The not-for-profit local development corporation established to build and manage the regional fiber network doesn’t sit well with some county residents, however, including one retired Verizon employee who dismissed the project.

Odessa resident Karen Radenberg called fiber optics technology “old school” and said no private company will connect to the fiber network to expand broadband service.

Radenberg urged the county to consider that communications companies have now moved on to using 4G wireless technology instead of fiber.

“That’s ridiculous,” countered Legislature Chairman Dennis Fagan (R-Tyrone).


Fagan pointed to nearby Ontario County’s fiber middle-mile and institutional network which has signed companies, including Verizon, as customers.  Verizon reportedly uses the Ontario County network to deliver backhaul connectivity to its cell tower network in the area.  Ontario County is served by several different landline companies including Frontier Communications, Verizon, and Windstream.  Time Warner Cable is the dominant cable provider, but large sections of the county are deemed too rural for cable television service.

Fagan said the new fiber network will improve the chances private companies will expand broadband across the county, but also help deliver an important upgrade to the region’s emergency responder communications system.  The extremely hilly terrain across much of the southern tier creates problems because of signal gaps.  The new fiber network will allow the county to build radio repeaters into areas where the existing network of microwave communications towers cannot reach.

Schuyler County currently has no plans to sell Internet connectivity to the public, but hopes existing private cable and phone companies — including Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications — will consider utilizing the network to expand service.  Neither company has shown much interest expanding service to new areas recently, most likely because expansion costs will not be recouped fast enough.

If the county network reduces the cost to expand service, more homes and businesses may now fall within a “Return on Investment” formula that could mean the difference between broadband and dial-up.

Currently there are 6 comments on this Article:

  1. Chawk12 says:

    How the hell does Dennis Fagan think 4G connects? I was involved with the Verizon 4G upgrade. It was initially refered to by management as “fiber to the cell site”.

  2. Chawk12 says:

    Whoops I should have said Karen Radenberg. She must have been in marketing. She’s clueless as far as technology goes.

  3. Scott says:

    Nice to see someone sitting on the county Legislature that actually knows more than this supposed Verizon engineer. No engineer would ever make such a blatently wrong statement claiming 4G is a fiber replacement, that’s just stupid.

    Sounds like someone is more likely trying to play off their credentials for what little they’re worth to undermine a county project they don’t want to pay for with their taxes. If he had just wanted to voice his opinion against the project and disagree that would have been fine, but he lost all credibility claiming “fiber” as old school.

  4. Paul A Houle says:

    I’m a radio amateur and I live close to Ithaca and I can tell you that the terrain at the south end of the finger lakes is the Vietnam of wireless internet.

    The landscape is a plain that was dissected by the glaciers, so there’s a maximum altitude of about 2000 feet — there’s no hill that’s taller than all the other hills, so there’s no place that’s really good for a radio tower of any kind. A tower that overlooks a valley might have a good line-of-site to that valley, but will have a hard time seeing into the next valley over, and in this area the valleys never end.

    The built up part of a town like Ithaca, Watkins Glen or Hammondsport could be covered by a tower, but an area like that can also be covered by DSL or Cable.

    • My grandparents maintained a cottage on Keuka Lake near Penn Yan for many years so I am very familiar with the terrain down there. There is a reason why the tagline for Ithaca is “Ithaca is Gorges.” There are some homes and roads around Ithaca and Corning I would be afraid to park on without a well working emergency brake.

      The terrain is beautiful across the southern tier, but like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, was never favorable to wireless communications.

  5. Ron Dafoe says:

    The way I see it is this:

    These companies have already conditioned people into accepting data caps for wireless technology. The more they push that wireless is the way of the future, the more these companies make. The former verizon engineer is probably only thinkling about his retirement package…

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