Counties seek joint funding for broadband

QUEENSBURY - Washington, Hamilton and Warren counties have applied for $120,000 in federal stimulus funding as they push to further develop broadband internet access in the North Country.

"This money would be used for a needs analysis and system design," Warren County Planning Department Director Patricia Tatich said.

Although the money would not build broadband infrastructure, it would fund initial planning, which is required before construction can take place.

"The federal and state governments are really pushing the broadband thing here," Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe said. "If anything is going to be funded here it will be broadband expansion."

The funding application meets Gov. David Paterson's requirements for the dispersal of the $24 billion that New York State will receive over the next two years.

Monroe said the funding request for the broadband planning had been submitted to state Sen. Betty Little.

"The senator wants to focus on projects that will create or maintain the most private sector jobs possible," he said.

According to an analysis conducted by the planning departments of the three counties, more than 1,200 jobs would be either created or retained by a regional broadband expansion.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Warren County had received $1.7 million for construction of broadband infrastructure.

Hamilton County has also been granted money for the same purpose.

Currently, the three counties have been in negotiations with local not-for-profit carrier CBN Connect, which has helped develop broadband networks in other upstate counties, and has developed preliminary planning reports.

According to Monroe, the more counties involved with a given project, the cheaper the cost to the municipalities.

"My understanding is that if one county wants to do a needs analysis it is $60,000 - two costs $50,000 each and so on," Monroe said. "It makes sense to team up and get the best bang for our buck."

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