GLENS FALLS, NY (NEWS10) – The struggle to connect broadband Internet to the corners of the North Country that do not have it is a battle built on grants.
This week, the Warren County Economic Development Corporation helped six counties – Clinton, Essex, Frankin, Hamilton, Warren, and Washington – jointly apply for a new broadband grant program from the North Broadband Implementation Program. Country of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
“Inadequate technology infrastructure is perhaps the biggest consequential challenge facing our region,” said William Farber, Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors and City of Morehouse Supervisor. “The digital divide threatens public health and safety, greatly hampers economic growth, and restricts the quality of life for residents and visitors.”
The grant would help high-speed Internet reach nearly 3,000 homes in underserved parts of the North Country.
The COVID-19 pandemic was cited as a huge motivator and a wake-up call for rural county officials.
Data submitted by EDC shows that 30% of telehealth options in the North Country failed early in the pandemic. The counties app lists students using wi-fi hotspots in parking lots as their only internet options to complete homework.
The need for the Internet also coincides with the Warren County EDC’s goal to invite more businesses and telecommuters to relocate to the North Country region.
“The days of talking about regionalization in the Adirondacks are over. We’re doing it, ”said Jim Siplon, president of EDC Warren County. “The energy and enthusiasm that county leaders have brought to this project is contagious and I am sure it will lead to more collaborative efforts in the future, whether it be further expansion of broadband, housing, transportation, or any of the crowd. of problems in which we share challenges and opportunities “.
All six counties have committed to self-finance at least 10% of the total cost of the broadband project. They are joined by Charter / Spectrum, SLIC Network Solutions, Champlain Technology Group and Hudson Valley Wireless.
The momentum comes as Washington County approaches the last week of its broadband survey period, in an effort to map the areas in the rural county most in need of internet assistance.