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Empire Access Expands Fiber to the Home Service Across Western N.Y./Southern Tier

empireA Prattsburgh, N.Y. family-owned company has picked up where Verizon left off and is busily wiring up small communities across western New York and the Southern Tier with fiber to the home service, giving both Verizon and Time Warner Cable some competitive headaches.

Empire Access is concentrating its service in areas where Verizon FiOS will never go and Time Warner Cable maxes out at 50/5Mbps. The company recently launched service in downtown Batavia in Genesee County and will be launching serving in Big Flats later this year.

Empire promises no data caps or usage-based billing and offers 100/20Mbps at introductory prices ranging from between $45-65/mo. Gigabit broadband speed is also available.

Where it has franchise agreements with local communities, Empire also offers cable television packages ranging from $31.45-73.40, with up to 130 channels. The packages are not as comprehensive as those from Time Warner Cable, but customers may not mind losing a dozen or two niche cable channels to save up to $30 a month off what Time Warner charges. Nationwide home phone service is also an option.

Empire relies heavily on two public/non-profit fiber backbone networks to deliver service. The Southern Tier Network comprises a 235-mile long fiber backbone that runs through Steuben, Chemung and Schuyler counties. Further north, Axcess Ontario provides backbone connectivity across its 200+ mile fiber ring around Ontario County.

fiber backboneWith the help of public and non-profit broadband infrastructure, residents in small communities across a region extending from Sayre, Pa., north to Batavia, N.Y., will have another choice besides Verizon or Frontier DSL, Comcast or Time Warner Cable.

Residents in some communities, like Hammondsport and Bath — south of Keuka Lake, love the fact they have a better choice than Time Warner Cable. Empire has reportedly signed up 70 percent of area businesses and has more than a 20% residential market share in both villages after a year doing business in the Finger Lakes communities.

Empire targets compact villages with a relatively affluent populations where no other fiber overbuilder is providing service. It doesn’t follow Google’s “fiberhood” approach where neighborhoods compete to be wired. Instead, it provides service across an entire village and then gradually expands to nearby towns from there.

Most western New York villages are already compact enough to attract the attention of cable companies, predominately Time Warner Cable, which has an effective broadband monopoly. Verizon and Frontier offer limited slowband DSL, but Verizon has stopped expanding the reach of its broadband service and will likely never bring FiOS fiber to the home service to any western N.Y. community outside of a handful of suburbs near Buffalo.

empire-access-truckThe arrival of Empire reminds some of the days when the first cable company arrived to wire their village. Word of mouth is often enough to attract new customers, but a handful of local sales agents are also on hand to handle customer signups. From there, one of the company’s 80+ employees in New York handle everything else.

Bryan Cummings, who shared the story of Empire Access with us, “is pretty stoked.”

“Bye, bye Time Warner Cable,” Cummings tells Stop the Cap!.

Time Warner has treated most of western New York about as well as its service areas in Ohio, often criticized for not keeping up with the times. With fiber overbuilders Empire Access in the Finger Lakes region and Southern Tier and Greenlight Networks in Rochester, the fastest Internet options are not coming from the local phone and cable company anymore.

WSKG in Binghamton explores fiber broadband developments in the Southern Tier of upstate New York. Empire Access is providing the fast fiber broadband Verizon, Frontier, and Time Warner Cable won’t. (3:54)

You must remain on this page to hear the clip, or you can download the clip and listen later.

At present, Empire Access provides service in:

  • Village of Arkport
  • City of Batavia
  • Village of Bath
  • Village of Canisteo
  • Village of Hammondsport
  • City of Hornell
  • Village of Montour Falls
  • Village of Naples
  • Village of North Hornell
  • Village of Watkins Glen
  • Village of Waverly (N.Y.)
  • Boroughs of Sayre, Athens, and South Waverly (Pa.)
  • Borough of Troy (Pa.)

Communities on Empire’s radar for future expansion include Urbana, Dansville, Wayland and Cohocton. Further out, there is some consideration of larger cities like Corning and Elmira, as well as other towns in far northern Pennsylvania. With Empire’s expansion into Naples, the company also has many options in affluent and growing communities in Ontario County, south of Rochester.

Currently there are 14 comments on this Article:

  1. Andrew says:

    Please come to Victor, NY!

  2. Paul Houle says:

    Please come to Caroline NY!

  3. Bryan Cummings says:

    Phil,

    Excellent job on the article.

    I ordered service on Monday, they finally called me back today to schedule the install.

    Fiber will run to my house in about 2 weeks, and the inside install will happen the second week of July. I can’t wait. Now I just need to find a wifi router that can handle the faster speeds. I could have rented a wifi router from the company for an extra 5 dollars a month, but a new router will pay for itself pretty quickly. I’ve been meaning to get one that is vpn capable for a while now.

    • I am glad you found better broadband. It is ironic that folks in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier will have better Internet service than those of us in urban/suburban Buffalo/Rochester/Syracuse where FiOS doesn’t bother and companies like Greenlight do not reach yet. Time Warner has ghettoed stagnant broadband across upstate New York until they get around to Maxxing us.

  4. Ian Shelly says:

    I wonder if they will expand to the suburbs of Buffalo that don’t currently have FiOS?

    • From everything I have seen, there is a chance they could go that way if they first tackle larger communities like Elmira and Corning. The biggest issue may be finding access to a fiber backbone they can affordably access.

      Empire is proof positive that public and non profit middle mile fiber networks make this kind of Internet possible. The biggest challenge has always been last mile costs to individual customers, but having fiber rings in the area makes writing a business plan that much easier.

      I also like the fact Empire is family run and has a dedicated team of local employees that keep it up and running. I have not heard anyone complaining except those who want service but cannot get it. That makes it clear if you offer good service at a fair price, you need not be despised like Comcast, TWC, Verizon, and Frontier.

  5. Roman Lewyckyj says:

    Yes, please come to Victor, NY!

  6. Andrew says:

    Roman,

    Sign up at their website. Perhaps demand will push them our way.

  7. Roman Lewyckyj says:

    Andrew,

    I did right away. I’m on the contact list for when they come to our area. Hopefully soon.

  8. Linda says:

    Can someone tell me if rain storms, which cause power outages and disrupt satellite services here in the Catskills, will also cut off Verizon’s Voice Link system?

  9. Branden says:

    I live less than 750 ft from fiber yet i cant get even cable and they expect us to pay $100 for hughes net or excedes terrible service haha. Town of geneva for ya

  10. Mary says:

    Please come to rt 16 in Watkins Glen

  11. David Philipson says:

    How is it that you can get high speed fiber access in Bath, NY and we can’t get access in Victor, Canandaigua, etc…???

  12. GEORGE DESHAIES says:

    Please consider coming to western ny. Been waiting for 25 years for good svc.

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