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Thurman broadband access project advances

Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood talks about how fast, affordable broadband access is coming soon to the north end of Thurman, which has to date either relied on dialup — or satellite transmissions, which have been expensive and unreliable with slow upload speeds.

Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood talks about how fast, affordable broadband access is coming soon to the north end of Thurman, which has to date either relied on dialup — or satellite transmissions, which have been expensive and unreliable with slow upload speeds. Photo by Thom Randall.

— High-speed Internet access for Thurman residents is moving forward this week, as bids to construct the first phase of a “white space” broadband transmission network are expected to be submitted to the town by a bid deadline of Friday Sept. 13.

Thurman Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood said this week that the bids will likely be opened at Thurman’s next town board meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 17 — and the project could be awarded at that time.

She said that the construction of the first phase of the local broadband network could be completed this fall.

This initial broadband extension project is expected to bring affordable high-speed Internet connection to 89 households in the north end of town on Valley Road, South Johnsburg Road, Mountain Road, as well as Barton Road, Don Potter Road, Combs Road and portions of South Garnet Lake Road.

Wood said that three communications companies — one each from Texas, Chestertown and the Capital Region — have expressed interest in submitting a bid to construct the system.

The broadband initiative, to be accomplished through a public-private partnership, has received national attention because it is a pilot project for a very promising technology that is expected to change a lot of lives in rural areas of our nation. The broadband technology is envisioned as an innovative, cost-effective solution to extending broadband into hilly, remote rural areas.

This Thurman white-space project, spearheaded by Evelyn Wood at the initial suggestion of Ava Ashendorff of Chestertown, has been described on National Public Radio, written up in the Senate Rural Resources magazine, and described on PBS television.

Supervisor Wood, who applied for and obtained a $200,000 state grant for the project, was interviewed this Spring for the Capitol Press Room radio show, which is broadcast statewide.

White space transmission refers to broadcasting data signals over the frequencies of electromagnetic spectrum existing between vintage television channels. Unlike cell-phone and wi-fi frequencies, white space transmission travels good distances in rural, wooded and hilly areas.

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