John Beaver

John Beaver, general manager of Armstrong Telecommunications, explains plans to extend high-speed internet service to up to 20,000 homes and businesses in Cattaraugus, Allegany and Steuben counties to members of the Cattaraugus County Legislature’s Development and Agriculture Committee on Wednesday.

LITTLE VALLEY — Armstrong Telecommunications, an Addison-based company, plans to string 2,000 miles of fiber optic cable across Cattaraugus, Allegany and Steuben counties by the end of the year.

An Armstrong representative, general manager John Beaver spoke to members of the Cattaraugus County legislature’s Development and Agriculture Wednesday.

Beaver said the small company with New York headquarters near Corning, was awarded targeted census tracts in Phase 2 of the New NY Broadband Program in the three counties, plus adjacent areas in Wyoming and Livingston counties.

Armstrong was awarded $47.7 million in Phase 2 and matched it with $12.4 million in private money for more than 16,500 homes and businesses in 1,678 census tracts in the three counties.

Beaver emphasized that the service Armstrong will offer include speed up to 1 gigabyte of high-speed internet service including wi-fi and home telephone service. There are no plans to include television.

Armstrong has also been awarded another $23 million for fiber optic cable hookups in Cattaraugus, Allegany and Chautauqua counties, as part of Phase 3 funding from the state’s New NY Broadband Program. The company has also been awarded additional tracts requiring another 1,500 miles of fiber optic cable to serve another 10,000 homes in underserved areas.

State officials recently announced how much of the available $341.8 million in Phase 3 funding was on its way to Western New York.

State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, said in a release Friday that the past three years of grant funding have helped close the “connectivity gap” between the state communities.

“In the 21st century, broadband is the cornerstone of economic development, education, health care, public safety and virtually every aspect of modern life,” Young said. “This (funding) is a victory that will pay immeasurable dividends in the years to come, helping our rural communities to not only survive, but thrive,” she said.

Survey crews under contract with Armstrong have fanned out across the Southern Tier to help design the broadband system, Beaver said. They are staying within the right-of-way for the utility poles the fiber optic cable will hang on. The crews are in trucks that mark them as working for Armstrong and carry Armstrong photo identification as well.

The 60-year-old Armstrong company has been providing internet services for 20 years, Beaver said. The current footprint stretches from Corning to Whitesville in Allegany County.

The company plans to string wire on 80,000 utility poles in Cattaraugus, Allegany and Steuben County before Dec. 31, to meet its deadline under the New NY Broadband Program. “We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Beaver said.

Beaver stood next to a map of the census tracts where it must run wire by the end of this year. The census tracts are viewable online at www.nysbroadband.ny.gov.

To do all this, and the millions of dollars of work in the next phase, will take hundreds of technicians for contractors. They all need places to eat, sleep and gas up their trucks, Beaver said, pointing out the economic impact.

“We are working with the Seneca Nation as well, Beaver said.

Crews should begin stringing cable in Cattaraugus County between mid-summer to fall, Beaver said. “It’s census block-driven,” he said, adding they could go only so far.

Also, while the fiber optic cable may be strung in front of houses on 2,000 miles of road in areas not otherwise served by broadband by Dec. 31, it won’t be energized until later as people call for hookups.

Some initial hookups will be free and the basic monthly service will cost $59.95. Phone service will also be available, as will more costly upload and download speeds.

Beaver said the company is holding meetings in various towns where services will be offered. For questions like what areas will services be offered, he suggested people call the Armstrong office at (617) 359-2211.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)

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