$1.8 million MTC grant to extend hi-speed internet

By Brian Sweeney
MTC Cable (MTC) has been awarded $1.8 million in matching funds to extend broadband into segments of the Catskills Region without access to this technology.
The award, announced last week, is part of the Governor’s Connect New York Broadband Grant Program.

Working in collaboration with the MARK Project, Western Catskills Revitalization Council, the Catskill Watershed Corporation, the Catskill Watershed Corporation and local municipalities, MTC proposes to construct more than 100 miles of fiber optic facilities during the next two years. The project would extend the availability of broadband and other advanced telecommunications services into the un-served regions of the Towns of Conesville, Gilboa, Halcott, Middletown and Roxbury.
In Middletown, the primary areas targeted for expansion are Red Kill, Dimmick Mountain and Brush Ridge Road. Town of Roxbury expansion would center on the Denver-Vega, and the valleys between Roxbury and Grand Gorge.

Cooperative effort
MTC General Manager Glen Faulkner said the expansion will extend a suite of telecommunications services (broadband, cable television and telephone) to an estimated 900 homes and businesses when complete the work is complete in 2015.

“This is a huge step forward in addressing the lack of broadband availability in the very rural segments of our community. MTC has been working with its partners over the past three years exploring grant opportunities necessary to fund the extension of broadband service to the un-served residents,” Mr. Faulkner commented.

He continued, “We understand the economic disadvantage the lack of adequate broadband service brings to a community and we are very pleased that our project was chosen for funding under the Governor’s Connect NY Broadband Grant Program. Although this initiative does not provide the funding resources to be all-inclusive and enable broadband offerings to all of the residents living within un-served regions, it is anticipated that a vast majority will be served when the project is completed.”

Mr. Faulkner said the grant award, along with a prior funding commitment by the Catskill Watershed Corporation, will match up to $2 million of direct MTC investment to address the lack of broadband services into the rural segments of the community.

The MTC general manager explained, “This is a huge step forward in addressing the lack of broadband availability in the very rural segments of our community. MTC has been working with its partners over the past three years exploring grant opportunities necessary to fund the extension of broadband service” to these areas.

Mr. Faulkner said his company will be working with its project partners to conduct a survey of the community residents to identify those with an immediate need or desire for broadband service. Feedback from the surveys will be used to establish priority build-out areas for the project, he indicated.

The general manager said it’s feasible that the build-out can occur relatively quickly and that he anticipates bringing on some new customers by this summer. He noted that a lot of the mapping and preliminary infrastructure work along main roads is already in place.
He said that further project details will be announced over the next few months.
Mr. Faulkner said that MTC has been working on obtaining grant funding to assist with this type of expansion for about four years.

In a separate project, MTC will also be enhancing its DSL service to customers in the Town of Andes.
MTC has approximately 3,000 broadband customers in the towns of Middletown, Roxbury, Halcott, Andes and Colchester.