NEW BALTIMORE — State Telephone will be bringing faster broadband Internet to New Baltimore and neighboring communities, in part through a grant awarded last year by the state.
Since receiving the grant in August 2016, State Telephone representatives have been working on the design and installation of fiber optic lines in the areas that the grant approved, including New Baltimore, Athens and Coxsackie, State Telephone Vice President Mark Evans said. This will replace a copper Digital Subscriber Line that provides a limited service.
“Fiber optic is the fastest way to provide Internet,” Evans said. “There are a couple of other providers, but nothing they have won’t match the speed potential of the fiber optics.”
During the first week in October, an 80,000-pound telecom concrete building was brought in from Indiana to be placed at the corner of Union and Vernon streets in the village of Athens to serve as the main distribution center for the broadband, Evans said.
“It was quite the operation,” Evans said. “Believe it or not, it only took an hour from when the building arrived to putting it on the ground.”
New power poles are being replaced by Central Hudson in the village of Athens, Evans said.
“The poles are either very old or too small,” Evans said. “We’ve had to pay Central Hudson a good amount of money to replace the poles.”
State Telephone’s coverage area stretches from Coeymans to Athens.
Evans said there are several rounds of the broadband grant. The first round was the money State Telephone received for New Baltimore, Athens and Coxsackie, and the second round went to another company that will provide broadband service to Catskill.
“Round three, we’re waiting to hear,” Evans said.
The $10.8 million grant will cover the entire project and State Telephone is reimbursed for 80 percent of the cost, Evans said. The other 20 percent will be covered by State Telephone.
State Telephone representatives have communicated with lawmakers from each town and village affected by the project to inform them of where construction will be occurring, Evans said.
“It’s pretty substantial construction,” Evans said. “All the municipalities know we’ll be doing the buildup.”
The service is expected to be available on a widespread basis sometime in 2018 and customers will be provided with a minimum 100-megabyte connection for $60 a month, Evans said. This price is capped for five years, and businesses and other individuals who need more megabytes can contact State Telephone.
“One hundred megabytes — that’s a huge connection,” Evans said. “Most people won’t use a fifth of that.”
A portion of State Telephone’s coverage area will be updated, but not all sections will be done, Evans said.
“We do plan on building out further, but that will be at our expense,” Evans said.
Evans said residents in the areas affected by the project are elated about getting higher-speed Internet.
New Baltimore Town Supervisor Nick Dellisanti said it will be good for residents to get access like a speedier service.
“It’s definitely needed,” Dellisanti said. “State Telephone did a great job of putting their package together.”