NY County Plans Publicly-Owned 500-Mile Internet Backbone

Nearly a million people live in Erie County, New York. Slashdot reader McGruber brings news that their legislature just approved a new public corporation to bring the county a 500-mile high-speed fiber-optic internet network, making them one of the largest municipalities in America operating this kind of backbone. The Buffalo News reports: The vision remains to provide high-speed, cutting-edge connectivity throughout the county, not just in the wealthier suburbs. The goal is a new network that could level the economic development playing field by offering super-fast speeds to poorer cities and to rural towns to the south and east that currently suffer from a distinct connectivity disadvantage.... Business and design planning was delayed by Covid-19. Business planning has now restarted, though detailed network mapping is still months away. Major work is now expected to move forward, thanks to a second windfall of American Rescue Plan money that Erie County will receive this year. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has pledged to use that $34 million in federal funds to get ErieNet jump-started again, with hopes of starting to lay fiber-optic cable before year's end. The current ErieNet plan is for a more ambitious network than first proposed. Initially, Poloncarz said the county would lay roughly 360 miles of fiber-optic lines that would then be leased to public and private entities. But that was before federal stimulus aid was available. Now, county leaders are talking about an even larger network involving the laying of 400 to 500 miles of fiber. The article notes one legislator's observation that for most high-speed internet users in Buffalo, the only option is Spectrum. "We need competition," he said.

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