On February 2, 2022

Pittsford eyes broadband for all

By Ariadne Will

A presentation to the Pittsford Select Board by the Otter Creek Consolidated Communications District (OCCUD) asked the panel to consider allocating ARPA funds to broadband infrastructure in the community.

Tony Ferraro, a representative from the communications district, explained OCCUD’s plan to deliver broadband service to all Pittsford homes over the next several years.

Ferraro’s presentation included a breakdown of houses served, underserved and unserved by current broadband infrastructure. He explained that the goal of the OCCUD — which is currently run by an all-volunteer staff — is to create a fiberoptic network from scratch by using an estimated $70 million and partnering with existing broadband providers. He explained that the project will be funded by a combination of federal and state grants, ISP partner capital, revenue bonds if needed and optional town contributions.

Once completed, the operating cost of the system would be paid by way of a small subscriber service fee.

Ferraro’s presentation was followed by testimony from Pittsford resident Shawn Good. Good’s home is located on Blue Quarry Road, in a place that does not receive quality broadband access and is considered — by the standards of Ferraro’s presentation — unserved.

Good told the Select Board that he has been working for a while to try to fix this issue, which has been exacerbated by the need to have a steady internet connection during the pandemic. He reported driving his son, who was a freshman in high school when the pandemic hit, to the parking lot of the public library on an almost daily basis to access reliable internet for his son’s online learning.

A current option if for Good to pay $2,400 out of pocket for Comcast to link his and his neighbor’s households to broadband infrastructure. Good said that at this point, he is willing to take the company up on the offer, but that this pricing depends on the neighbor also paying $2,400 to be connected.

Good asked the Select Board to consider putting ARPA money towards helping unserved residents such as himself access broadband and described living without it as “unsustainable.”

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