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Tupper broadband survey results still being calculated

Mary Fontana is sworn in as a town of Tupper Lake councilwoman at the board’s first meeting of the year Jan. 9. She won reelection in November for her second four-year term on the board. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — The results of the Tupper Lake broadband study are still being calculated and the committee is determining if the desire is there for local businesses to get their internet via fiber optics.

The numbers are still being crunched, but town Councilman John Quinn said if there is enough of a demand for fiber optic service in the business community the committee will seek a “last mile provider,” such as Slic Network Solutions, to help build out the lines already running through the town.

The survey, which was described as an “exploratory first step,” was mailed out to 120 businesses in November and was available online as well. Quinn said the committee has received 30 responses to the paper survey and over 100 responses online.

He said the paper survey response was lower than he had expected, but that some businesses might have filled it out online. Still, he said there were some businesses he was surprised they did not get responses from either way.

At the Jan. 9 town board meeting he asked fellow councilman and broadband committee member Michael Dechene to check in on those who did not respond. Dechene said he will “knock on some doors.”

Quinn says he believes demand for fiber optics is there. The committee got started when several businesses — Schoolhouse Renovation, Stacked Graphics and Raquette River Brewing — were asking for better internet service.

Service is currently provided by Charter Communication’s Spectrum brand. Quinn said the town and company’s franchise agreement has expired, and that they are in the midst of negotiating a new one.

He said if the responses to the survey show people are not satisfied with the speed, reliability and service of their internet the town may take those results to Spectrum and ask how they can resolve it in their new agreement.

“I’m not giving up on fiber,” Quinn said. “But even if we don’t succeed on the fiber end of it maybe we can get better service with the cable we have.”

Dechene explained the difference between fiber optic and traditional internet sources.

“It’s like drinking water out of a garden hose or a culvert pipe,” Dechene said at the board meeting.

The board and assembled public quickly erupted into debate over whether they would want to drink out of a culvert pipe, so Dechene rephrased his analogy.

“Let me clarify,” he said. “(it’s about) the volume.”

The current fiber optic lines, laid by the Development Authority of the North Country, pass close to businesses. DANC has already brought fiber optic internet access to Tupper Lake schools, the Wild Center nature museum and the Municipal Park. It follows state Route 3 from the north, down Main Street, Demars Boulevard and up High Street, Chaney Avenue and Lake Street, Quinn said. A split-off goes up Wawbeek Avenue and Stetson Road.

Phil Wagschal, former president of Slic Network Solutions and current president of Connected Land Inc. is currently crunching the numbers in the survey results.

The committee meets monthly and its most recent meeting was Jan. 8.

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