The majority of these New Yorkers appear to be located in the Finger Lakes and Mohawk Valley regions, according to the report, which are synonymous with rural and difficult terrain. It’s these difficult conditions that are a major obstacle for running basic broadband to these areas. Often times, wired solutions such as fiber are not a viable solution due obstacles like mountains, valleys and dense forests.
RESOLUTE Partners has first hand experience dealing with difficult, rural terrain. Most recently, a complex advanced wireless solution was established for the Seneca Nation of Indians on the Cattaraugus Reservation in New York. RESOLUTE designed and engineered a multi-tower, point-to-multipoint wireless network to effectively deliver broadband Internet access across 25 square miles to more than 1,500 tribal member homes where traditional Internet service is not available. And satellite or 3G/4G service is spotty at best.
The glimmer of hope for New Yorkers, especially rural ones, is a recent campaign dubbed #Broadband4All by Governor Cuomo. In an attempt to rally support, Cuomo is looking for New Yorkers to share their support online using social media and by visiting a new website. The plan looks to bring high-speed Internet at 100 Mpbs to all New Yorkers by 2018. For rural areas, 25 Mbps, the FCC’s goal, is acceptable. The budget is set at $500 million. The caveat is that the broadband providers in the private sector must match the state’s buy-in for it to work.
As with many of the initiatives and proposals for expanded broadband to underserved areas, the missing piece is two-fold:
- Viable business model - Someone has to finance construction and operations and, if the number of potential customers can’t support a commercial service, how much of that cost can be carried and sustained by federal or state grants? Unless, the infrastructure (fiber or wireless) is built and operated like the Interstate Highway system as a government funded and mandated program.
- Infrastructure - In general, the requirement for broadband speed must be mitigated by the available technology that can deliver the service, especially in rural areas. Setting a target beyond the various technologies capabilities only ends up hurting the consumer. The approach to rural broadband is to get consumers connected, even at a level below what the FCC considers broadband. Build outs should also be requirred to be completed in phases. Start with what is available today and have an upgrade plan to take advantage of what will be available in the future. This will deliver consumers a connection they don’t have today, but also a longer term plan for future improvements. Even better, having defined areas and equipment sold that is actually in service will spur manufacturers to develop the next generation equipment to replace the existing deployments. Doing this will be a win for everyone and break the gridlock that’s currently holding back deployments in these areas.