L ocal residents who don’t have access to high-speed internet may soon be able to surf the web.
Jason Guzzo, general manager of Hudson Valley Wireless, told Washington County supervisors last week that installation and construction of antenna towers capable of providing broadband internet access has begun and service could be available in the next few months.
“We’re not too far away. We’re looking at the latter part of this year or the early part of 2015,” Guzzo said.
The company was awarded a $2.4 million grant through the Connect NY Broadband Grant. Connect NY provides $25 million in grants available through the Regional Economic Councils and Empire State Development to expand promote and expand high-speed internet access in rural and underserved areas of the state.
That money was distributed to 18 different projects and Hudson Valley Wireless is investing $900,000 of its own money. The local project, “Connecting the Capital Region” will provide high-speed wireless broadband access to 40,000 homes and 2,000 businesses that currently don’t have access. In addition, the network will enhance public safety operations and allow municipalities to use a portion of the bandwidth at no cost.
“When we’re done, we will cover 1,400 square miles. Right now we’re at about 1,000 square miles,” Guzzo said.
The company has formed a partnership with Washington County that will allow the company to have access to county emergency towers at the Municipal Center in Fort Edward and on Burch Mountain in Hebron. The company also has a “microwave distribution” tower in Easton and a tower on Todd Mountain in Argyle. Other are planned to be constructed near Summit Lake in Argyle and Shine Hill in Hartford.
Guzzo said the company is currently focused on the southern part of the county but has already applied for additional funding and may expand into the northern part of the county in the future.
Hartford Supervisor Dana Haff, who is already a customer of Hudson Valley Wireless said the system works on “line of sight.”
“If you climb the tower, all the roof tops you can see get the service,” he said.
Each of those homes would have a small satellite-like dish that receives the signal, which can then be picked up by computer routers.
Hudson Valley Wireless claims its service is 10 times faster than DSL and 25 times faster than satellite. The basic residential plan provides a sustained download speed of 6 Mbps and an upload speed of 1.5 Mbps. Enhanced plans provide even faster speeds.
The lack of high-speed internet has become increasingly problematic in portions of Washington County.
“I’ve heard from people in Hartford who aren’t happy with their service,” Haff said. “I think this is very important for the town of Hartford and for Washington County.”