Feature Stories

Our Internet is as Slow as a Snail Here.

Yup. many neighbors have some of the slowest speeds around, or none.  This is completely unacceptable in 2019.  Since it’s an election year, I sent out questions to the folks running for Erie County Executive to see what they had to say about it.  It is troubling that my neighbors ONE house down can’t even enjoy Netfilx!  It was a bit of a struggle, but I got answers from BOTH candidates.

Slow to no internet in and around Newstead has been a burden to residents and has been hampering growth for years.  The whole world is digital now from where we order stuff, to ride haling services, prescription refills, and everything else you can think of.  Fast internet is also needed for the schoolkids. We are now going into 2020 and there are neighbors of mine (the next house down as a matter of fact) that can only access internet through ridiculously expensive (and slow) satillight, DSL (might as well be dial up), and some other slow service.  If you are lucky enough to have Spectrum, they have spotty service, and now they are raising prices again because they have a monopoly and they can.

County Executive Mark Poloncarz has proposed “Erienet” which would be run by the county to get fast internet to us in agriculture areas.  He talked about it back in March(?), but hasn’t said much since.

Since the election is coming up, and I have people complaining about this to me daily, I decided to write to both candidates for County Executive regarding this issue.  I asked them both about their plans to address our internet desert.  I heard back from both of their campaigns, and here are their responses for you:

LynneDixon  Lynne Dixon

The region is falling behind in terms of its digital network, it’s hurting residents and it is hurting our efforts to bring in new businesses to help boost our lagging local economy. A recent report said Erie County/Buffalo trails even Rochester and Syracuse in our average download speed. Only a few areas have high-speed fiber in Erie County, and everyone else is being left behind. We need to work to close the digital divide. In August, NYS allocated $16.1 million to expand broadband internet in rural communities, this includes 26 locations in Erie County. This is a start, we need to continue to work at it. Everyone deserves reliable and quick internet access. Erie County is pursing a plan on our level to help address the gap, but we haven’t received many details on this from the Poloncarz administration since it was first mentioned by the County Executive in March. I think the Legislature, especially Legislators that represent rural communities, are very intrigued by this proposal and we have called on the Erie County Legislature majority to hold meetings and hearings on this, that letter was sent April 9th, so far they have refused. I am hopeful they adhere to our request so we can begin moving this forward.
Here is a copy of the letter:  dixons letter    

MarkPoloncarz Mark Poloncarz

Thanks for your email. ErieNet is full steam ahead! Just yesterday in the 2020 budget presentation we announced $250,000 in funding for the initial design and business planning of ErieNet. This funding will enable the Department of Environment and Planning to hire a specialized IT contractor to begin the key preparatory work needed to start construction on ErieNet.

Since announcing the ErieNet proposal at the 2019 State of the County address, an internal Erie County team of attorneys, IT experts and planners has been working to develop the specific legal structure of ErieNet which is a critical first piece of the plan. Next year’s planning phase is the next step.
For a direct customer like yourself, the ErieNet team is working to solicit “last-mile” providers who would tie into the ErieNet Open Access Network (OAN). Think of ErieNet as the highway, and the last mile providers as the streets and alleys. There are a number of smaller regional internet service providers, (ISPs) in New York State who specialize in providing fiber internet service to underserved areas and they have expressed interest in our OAN model.

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