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Tribe’s broadband Internet project nearing completion

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AKWESASNE - The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s $10.5 million broadband Internet project is on-budget, near completion and should be going live by mid-summer, according to project manager Brenna Susice.

“The passive components are pretty much done,” Ms. Susice said, referring to the fiber-optic lines that transmit data.

She added that approximately 44 percent of the drops from poles to a premise are ready to go. Ms. Susice also noted about 70 percent of the splicing between the main line and individual customers is finished.

Service will go as far west as the St. Lawrence-Franklin county line, as far east as the Fort Covington town line, and will partially go south into the Bombay triangle, but not far beyond the modular building which serves as the “brains” of the network. The modular building is near the former First Americans IGA. Since the grant money came from the U.S., the project will not extend into the so-called Canadian side of the reservation.

The project will make another stride next week, according to Ms. Susice, when a request for proposal will go out for an operations building. The structure will house offices for broadband personnel and storage for their equipment. Ms. Susice said it will be located near the modular building. In April, Ms. Susice said the tribe will be looking at two providers to get data flowing through the network – Fidelity Solutions and Paradigm Networks.

A functional broadband Internet network could spark economic development in Akwesasne, according to Ms. Susice.

“I know the community – it’s going to change and shape the community,” she said, adding that it will enable locals to run a home Internet business or take online classes. She is hopeful that the service may even attract a major data or call center to open its doors.

“It makes us more marketable, really,” Ms. Susice said.

Ms. Susice said the project funding came from the federal Mohawk Broadband Initiative grant/loan program, which the tribe was awarded in 2010. She said $10 million was given in grant money and $528,000 was loaned.

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