LITTLE VALLEY — The long push for expanded broadband Internet service in rural areas of Cattaraugus County should pay off over the next year or so.
“It’s better than what I expected,” said Crystal Abers, director of the Cattaraugus County Department of Economic Development, Planning and Tourism.
The entrance into the market of Armstrong Communications, Addison, N.Y., will result in thousands of miles of fiber optic cable being strung in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties.
In Cattaraugus County, the cable should start going up by this fall, Abers said. Crews have been out surveying the existing infrastructure roads that will be served to see where new utility poles will be needed.
“We get calls every week about high-speed Internet service,” Abers said in an interview in her Little Valley office on Friday. “We walk them through the Armstrong website” to see if they are in line for Internet service. If your street is on a pink area on the Armstrong map, you should be able to sign up for Internet.
Armstrong bid on scores of census tracts in the two Southern Tier counties. “I’m not surprised it’s taking longer than anticipated. It was an unrealistic time frame. They started in Allegany County and they are going west,” Abers said. “They are coming into the Portville area soon.”
Abers said Armstrong general manager Rick Beaver will attend a meeting of the County Legislature’s Development and Agriculture Committee in July.
New York auctioned off service areas by census tract, but the original time frame was not realistic
She said Armstrong is familiar with rural broadband and “should be a good fit” for the area.
Armstrong plans to offer Internet and telephone service, not cable television.
After any new utility poles are installed, fiber optic cable will be strung up by crews under contract with Armstrong.
To see what the status of broadband Internet is in your area, go online to www.armstrongny.com.
Abers said Spectrum also appears to be extending their existing cable infrastructure, although it is difficult to speak with company officials about specific plans.
Two wireless companies the county has been working with for several years are currently offering microwave-based internet services.
Dunkirk-Fredonia Telephone Co. (DFT) is providing microwave-based internet to northwest towns of Dayton, Leon, Perrysburg and Persia, including Gowanda. The service is broadcast from the county’s tower on Peck Hill Road, Perrysburg.
In the northeast section of the county, Southern Tier Wireless offers a similar high-speed internet service to some residents of the towns of Freedom and Farmersville.
Southern Tier Wireless also considered expanding high-speed microwave-based Internet service in the Olean, Allegany, Hinsdale and Portville areas. Those plans are on hold.
Many of those areas are located either in census tracts where Armstrong won the bidding or in areas Spectrum is expanding its fiber optic cable.
We should see some activity in most of the rural areas Armstrong controls starting in late summer to early fall, Abers said. The hookups will follow.
“We’ve been working on this for seven or eight years,” Abers said. “We’re starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Still, she said, “We’re a couple of years away from the majority of people being able to connect to high-speed Internet in the county.”
Abers is also concerned that a major fiber optic cable runs across Cattaraugus County which is not being used to deliver high-speed Internet services. “It’s not being used. Why not utilize it?”
(Contact reporter Rick Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)