Another effort to improve broadband
Sep 16, 2019 12:31 am
Melanie Lekocevic in Columbia-Greene Media surveys local officials as another politician announces yet another effort to address the lack of broadband access in rural New York. This one comes from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and is called "The Upstate Cellular Coverage Task Force." “It’s a big problem across the county, and I know it’s one everybody from Sen. Gillibrand to Congressman Delgado to state and county officials have had conversations about to find ways to fill the gap in Greene County,” Jeff Friedman, president and executive director of the Greene County Chamber of Commerce, said. “Even in places like Main Street in Catskill — if you have Verizon, you don’t have service,” he added. “It’s a big part of attracting people to live and open businesses here.” Catskill's hilly terrain makes reception of all sorts of radio signals difficult, not just broadband. The Catskill mountains also mean more towers are needed for better broadband coverage. Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden crowed about one new tower going up to give one neighborhood better coverage. “A new AT&T tower is being built in Tannersville near Twilight Park, which will pick up a lot of service in that area. That is where hiking accidents happen,” Groden said. “We have a number of dead spots there and sometimes not even 911 service works there.” In Columbia County, Board of Supervisors Chairperson Matt Murell said Germantown, Clermont, Valatie, and other areas lack proper broadband coverage. “We had a broadband committee and a task force and even though they are not related, the public was telling them to fix the cell service while they are at it,” Murell said. Republicans George Amedore and Jake Ashby, and Democrat Didi Barrett also lament the lack of service, singing the same song local residents have heard for years with little improvement. Government officials can't even give away money to improve the problem: in 2010 Mid-Hudson Cable was awarded, and then turned down, a $3.5 million “rural broadband” grant from the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Services programs that would have addressed service in the towns of Ashland, Jewett, Lexington, Cairo, Catskill, Windham, Coxsackie, and New Baltimore in Greene County, and Austerlitz, Copake, Claverack, Ghent, Chatham, Hillsdale, and Taghkanic in Columbia County. The Upstate Cellular Coverage Task Force, the latest effort, includes no local representatives. Read the full story at HudsonValley360.com.