County Working With Broadband Company To Improve Internet Speeds

Most people in Chautauqua County don’t have access to internet at broadband speeds.

According to a study done by Microsoft, 162.8 million Americans, including 8.7 million in New York, aren’t receiving the internet at broadband speeds.

In Chautauqua County, 68 percent of the people don’t have access to broadband. When ranking the 62 counties of New York, Chautauqua County is ranked in the lower third, with Lewis County rating in as the worst with 83 percent of the people not having access to internet at broadband speeds. Nassau County is ranked the best with only 9 percent not having access to broadband.

This is one reason why Chautauqua County officials are working with DFT Communications on expanding broadband access. County Executive George Borrello said county officials have been working with DFT Communications on a project called Fiber to Farm to bring fiber optic cable and high-speed internet to rural areas of the county.

“We’ve been working with (DFT) to bring (fiber optic cable) to our business parks and looking for ways to expand to the county’s rural areas,” he said. “This is something that really is important. It is something I don’t talk much about, but I’m focused on it.”

According to Dan Siracuse, DFT Communications marketing and public relations, who didn’t provide names of towns or villages where the worst internet speeds are in the county, but said it’s where the copper line from Verizon ends. He said in these locations, the internet speeds is only 2.5 megabits per second. He said the FCC and New York state defines broadband speed of 25 megabits per second, with the state’s goal being to provide speeds of 100 megabits per second to as many areas as possible.

Siracuse said the areas of the county with the best speeds, which were not specifically indicated, have directed fibers offering speeds up to 10 gigabyte, which is 10,000 megabits per second.

“The quickest internet speeds are provided on an uncongested, non-blocking network that utilizes synchronous communications, or simply put fiber to the home,” he said.

Siracuse said without the assistance of state and county officials, projects DFT has worked on and will continue to work on to improve broadband speeds in Chautauqua County wouldn’t be happening.

“Without these public/private partnerships, networks like this would not be built, and without the foresight of the Gov. (Andrew Cuomo) to launch a program like this, the digital divide between urban area and rural would grow verses being eliminated.”

Borrello said he equates the expansion of broadband with what was happening 100 years ago when it came to electrifying rural areas.

“In order to have progress, you had to have electricity in rural areas,” Borrello said. “Fast forward to now, having access to high-speed internet is a must to have for businesses and commerce, and for people who want to live here to have access to things people every day have access to because of high-speed internet.”