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Cutting-edge technology to be delivered from Albany to north country by network

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When it comes to the availability of cutting-edge Internet technology, the north country will begin to resemble a big city next year.

The region’s 750-mile open-access telecommunications network owned by the Development Authority of the North Country soon will be linked to Albany, a move that will deliver a vast array of services and pricing options to customers of broadband and wireless carriers. DANC officials said the move greatly will benefit universities, hospitals, municipalities and residents by enabling them to purchase the same services offered in major cities.

The expanded network will be leased from Ion NewCo Corp. by the authority at a rate of $6,000 per month for 10 years under the plan approved by the DANC board Thursday. The network extends 90 miles east from Utica to Albany. From there, it extends north about 170 miles to Plattsburgh. The broadband cable will deliver 10-gigabits-per-second wavelength.

DANC also will expand its broadband cable to reach 16 additional wireless cell tower sites within its “middle-mile” network that connects to the region’s major telecommunications lines. The towers are owned by PEG Bandwidth, a wireless infrastructure provider that will pay for the $750,000 project (see map). Sites will be upgraded to offer 4G LTE wireless technology, and cables will be put in over the next four months to connect the sites.

The new section of the network should be connected fully in three months, said David M. Wolf, DANC’s telecommunications division manager. Large north country institutions that require high-capacity Internet access already may tap into services offered by carriers in Syracuse, he said. But extending the network to Albany will provide them with a wider range of options.

“The biggest advantage is it will give places like Clarkson University the ability to have two places to purchase Internet,” Mr. Wolf said. “This will give them a lot more choices and pricing. A university might have a 400-megabyte (Internet) plan, for example, and choose to buy 200 megabytes from Syracuse and Albany.”

He said the expanded network also, for example, will allow the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Canton, to upgrade its technology by partnering with the Albany-based Northeastern Regional Information Center.

Several major Internet carriers from Albany have expressed interest in expanding into the north country, said James W. Wright, DANC’s chief executive officer.

“This will provide access to the hub of what are referred to as carrier hotels in the Albany region,” he said. “We have Clarkson University and others that want the ability to deliver and receive additional information. This will expand the ability of carriers to do that.”

Additional wireless towers will mean expanded 4G wireless Internet access for residents in Jefferson, St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton, Essex and Oneida counties.

Rural communities “can’t offer 4G wireless service without bringing broadband to their towers,” Mr. Wolf said. “Some communities might have access now, but not from AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile. These carriers can now roll out 4G (coverage), based on their plan hitting more areas.”

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