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Broadband internet and cellular coverage in Adirondacks topic of forum

ALBANY Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) was joined Sept. 20 by her assembly Republican steering committee colleagues as well as local industry and government leaders at a first-of-its-kind teleconference meeting in Albany to discuss the need for twenty-first century technology, including comprehensive wireless and broadband service in the Adirondacks.

The teleconference connected participants at the Hilton Garden Inn in Albany with officials at the Indian Lake Ambulance Building using equipment developed by the Adirondack Area Network.

The Adirondacks are a spectacular place to live, but the lack of broadband and cellular coverage makes it nearly impossible to attract high-tech businesses to the area, said assemblywoman Sayward. More importantly, with the lack of health-care coverage in some areas of my district, it is essential that we have these capabilities. With today's available technology we should not handicap our first responders, health and safety volunteers. I am excited to use this meeting to demonstrate the outstanding technological potential like the teleconferencing equipment we are using today, to the North Country families and businesses I represent.

Industry and local government attendees included representatives of the New York State Telecommunications Association Inc., Cable Communications of Willsboro, Adirondack Area Network, Westelcom, Crown Castle International, RCC Atlantic Inc./Unicel, Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, Hamilton County Emergency Services, the Town of Wells and the Town of Indian Lake.

Participants discussed the feasibility of a temporary state commission to address the broadband internet and mobile telephone needs of the state. Additional legislation would authorize municipalities and school districts that use state-funded internet access to lease access on their networks to local businesses and not-for-profit organizations at market rates if similar Internet service is not commercially available in the area.

Attendees at an April meeting of the steering committee in Lake Pleasant shared their views of issues surrounding the actual delivery of service to businesses on Main Street, as well as rural residences. Attendees agreed in order to deliver service in rural New York State, there must be a public/private partnership, as there was when other utilities were built many years ago.

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