Southern Tier Regional Board takes lead to expand high-speed broadband

Jen Gregory, Executive Director of the Southern Tier 8 Regional Board (“Southern Tier 8”) has announced “Project Connect,” a major initiative to connect the agency’s entire eight-county region to high-speed broadband. High-speed broadband is the critical infrastructure needed to drive major economic revitalization and a better quality-of-life in the region.

As the first major step, Gregory also announced that Southern Tier 8 has submitted an application for a $22 million federal grant to connect nearly 1,000 of New York State’s hardest-to-connect residences to high-speed fiberoptic broadband. The grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) would be used to connect 895 residential addresses in the Towns of Caroline, Coventry, Danby, German, Guilford, McDonough, Newfield, Oxford, and Taylor to high-speed fiber, through close partnerships with Haefele Connect, IWC, and Point Broadband. All of the 895 addresses in the 10 towns are located in rural areas with no access to broadband service.

“High-speed broadband is just about the most important piece of infrastructure for the Southern Tier and Central New York Regions to attract the jobs of the future, and enhance quality-of-life and overall opportunity,” said Gregory. “Through Project Connect, Southern Tier 8 is leading the charge to connect the entire region to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband service. Together with our partners Haefele Connect, IWC, and Point Broadband, I’m proud to say that we are making tremendous progress in connecting our part of the state. But, there’s lots more work to be done, so our sleeves are rolled up and we’re taking action,” she added.

“Haefele Connect is excited to partner with the Southern Tier 8 Regional Board in applying for this NTIA grant in order to provide high speed broadband internet, serving up to 164 currently unserved homes in the Town of Caroline in Tompkins County,” said Jeremy Haefele, Vice President, Haefele Connect. “Haefele Connect began offering cable TV in the Southern Tier and surrounding areas in 1983, and has been offering high speed internet to all of its customers since 2000.”

If awarded, the 895 homes in the NTIA grant would go from having no broadband access at all to having some of the fastest and most-reliable service in the nation through a partnership with internet service providers Hafele Connect, IWC, and Ithaca-based Point Broadband.

“Just as electricity and the interstate highways once transformed the regional economy, high- speed fiber is poised to revitalize the Southern Tier and Central New York, ushering in the jobs of the future, connecting our high-quality labor force to global opportunity. Thanks to our close partnership with Hafele TV, IWC, and Point Broadband, these 10 communities will be one step closer to greater opportunity,” noted Gregory.

“Point Broadband is excited about the opportunity to provide essential broadband access to the Southern Tier and Central NY communities and to continue our all-fiber network expansion in New York,” said Chuck Bartosch, Point Broadband General Manager. “Our company prides itself with our world-class hometown approach to customer service and is committed to the communities we serve. This initiative is in perfect alignment with our vison to change lives through fiber technology and our mission to deliver superior fiber-based broadband solutions to small town USA and rural America.”

“The last two years have highlighted how essential it is to have adequate broadband speeds to support business, educational, and medical needs of rural America,” said Terry Potter, Chief Marketing Office, IWC. “This application for the NTIA funding is a reflection of ST8’s commitment to improving the opportunities and quality of life for rural communities they represent throughout the southern tier and central NY.”

As the region becomes a hotbed for fiber-broadband expansion, Southern Tier 8 plans to roll out additional announcements in the coming weeks to chronicle the progress made in connecting the area’s urban cores and vast rural areas through its Project Connect initiative.

About the Southern Tier 8 Regional Board

The Southern Tier 8 Regional Board (“Southern Tier 8”) is a multifaceted economic development and planning agency serving eight counties (Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Tioga, and Tompkins) in the Southern Tier region of Upstate New York. Southern Tier 8’s focus is to sustain and grow the regional economy by developing forward-thinking ideas and practical solutions to create opportunities for the future. The agency identifies multi-county issues to improve quality-of-life and drive economic revitalization. For more information, please visit southerntier8.org.