The Never Ending Quest For High Speed Internet – WGRZ.com
Clarence, NY – Governor Cuomo made stops across the state earlier this week, including one in Buffalo, to announce that plans are progressing to provide high speed, broadband internet to virtually everyone in the state.
That’s welcome news to a viewer who contacted us about his frustration –and the enormous cost he could incur, to get high speed internet in an area which is currently not served.
Steve Piotrowski is one of the 57% of people in Erie County who currently do not have broadband, high speed internet.
He lives in a section of Clarence, near the Newstead town line, and says for years he has been trying to get some sort of high speed broad band internet run out to his area.
Piotrowski claims that the closest place to his home where broadband is offered is about two miles away, and that when he contacted Time Warner, he was told by the company that it could run a high speed line to his residence, for $10,000.
He also says his request for assistance from the New York State Public Service Commission has been a dead end.
“Apparently, utilities are allowed to pick and choose where they serve based on how much it costs them to run the circuit,” said Piotrowski in an e-mail to 2 on Your Side. “I’m glad NYSEG didn’t have that rule, or I’d have a windmill for electricity!”
Time Warner was recently purchased by Charter Communications, a spokesperson for which, refused to comment on Piotrowski’s situation.
“We don’t discuss the specifics of individual customers publicly,” said Lara Pritchard, Charter’s Regional Director of Communications, in an e-mail.
Similar Stories of Sticker Shock
Piotrowski is not alone. After his story aired in our 5:30pm newscast on Friday, others began to write in with their concerns.
“Here in Town of Ward, which has no paved roads, only dirt, we have contacted the FCC to see if Time Warner would help the residents on our road to get cable,” wrote one viewer. “We wanted them since they have internet, besides cable. Our reply from them was that it would cost us $171,006.50, just for a study to be done. That is why we have a TV antenna for TV viewing.”
“I live here in Chautauqua County,” reported another viewer. “And I too was told that I could have TWC if I chose to pay $13,000 for internet, or share with neighbors and we each pay $1000.”
Carol Stewart of Willing in Allegany County, phoned to say that a neighbor of hers inquired of Time Warner last year, about the possibility of providing cable to three unserved homes about one mile from the nearest hook up.
“They were given a verbal quote of $43,000. Needless to say, we don’t have cable,” said Stewart, who wonders whether Time Warner simply didn’t wish to provide the serviced for a handful of homes near the Pennsylvania border, and thus quoted an enormous price to deter further inquiries.
The Plan To Expand
Cuomo’s commitment is to spend a half billion dollars, which will be paid in grants to various internet providers, to facilitate the extension of services into rural areas to the point where, in 2018, 97% of state residents will have access.
“If you don’t have high speed internet, you’re going to have trouble attracting businesses, you’re going to have trouble attracting real estate development ,and you’re leaving people behind in this information age,” said Cuomo. “We will be the only state in the nation to have (virtually) 100% coverage in the next 2 years.”
Where to Start?
Under its agreement with the state, Charter in particular, must expand access for high speed, broadband internet service into 145,000 homes statewide during that period.
However, it’s unclear as to precisely where that expansion will take place.
“We will not be commenting further…regarding specifics of the program,” Pritchard said.
Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 on Your Side reporter Dave McKinley and Chief Photojournalist Andy Desantis. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2