Present: Committee Members in Bold: Sandy Price, Co-Chair, Dan Dineen, Director of Planning, Terry Fitzgerald, Virgil resident and SUNY Cortland Biology Professor, Karl Klein, Solon resident and OCC Computer Science Professor, Olivia Hersey, Harford resident and Systems Administrator at TC-3, Carmen Branca, New Visions Powerline Communications, Inc., Sue Morgan, Clerk of the Legislature
Tytler, Danny Ross, Kathie Arnold, Robert Corpora
Sandy Price, Co-Chair called the meeting to order at 9:10 A. M.
Minutes of the May 7, 2008
meeting were unanimously approved with corrections of
Mr. Klein reported that 248 new results to the survey have been received. There was discussion regarding the retrieval and recording of survey data to finalize the report. They are to be delivered to the IT Department.
Mr. Branca told the committee that they need to look at the internet as an essential service. The state budget has been scaled back this year and will have 50-60 applicants. The grants awarded will be a token of the need for funding a county wide project. Mr. Klein asked why the state opted to grant funding for Solvay when they already have service. Mr. Branca said it was because Solvay has FIOS and cable. He explained that 3-4 year ago we were testing the technology close to their location and had the flexibility of a local power source. We are no longer testing but opening other links to connect more homes to further build out. He said over half of the homes already had service and made changes due to affordability. Based on surveys across the state asking what people were willing to pay was in our range to provide it. Regarding speeds, DSL came out in 1997 as a band aid when they saw cable coming, at speeds unacceptable and cannot provide video. Comcast is introducing speeds at 100 MB and Time Warner is not planning to build out. He advised the committee that the survey is very important to them to determine affordability and document that there is support for the services requested. He said that the federal funding does not include voice, only broadband even though they would market a potential to receive voice.
Mr. Fitzgerald spoke of grass roots efforts in Virgil. He explored writing a guest editorial and was told that that would be considered advertising. He mentioned placing a flyer in the Shopper at a cost of 4 ˝ cents to target certain areas or simply go door to door to get answers to questions.
Mr. Branca said that another County provided him with an opportunity to speak to with their legislature, emphasizing the need for support of all representatives in the County. He told the committee if they get a 5% response rate that is good as most surveys are about 1%. He said that the interesting part of the funding that is out there is that they tell you what it is for but they have to be sold that the money given benefits the area. They want to know who is the phone company and what do they offer and the take rate information by Town. The grassroots effort demonstrates there is backing by the community. Ms. Price asked what we will need. Mr. Branca replied, a decent response of from a couple hundred people beyond the County legislature and a higher take rate in the less dense areas, then present results to the legislature. He said wireless is not going to cut it no matter what you do because it is another band aid approach and doesn’t have the speed capabilities. His premise is that you need to provide business and homes FIOS, not DSL; the speeds will be from 50-100 MB. He said that the Federal government has finally restated the definition of broadband because many of the numbers were just dial-up. They now have them in 7 different categories starting with 1 MB and ending at 100 MB.
Ms. Price asked if the survey could be ready by the third week of July as session is scheduled for July 24th. She informed the committee that she will be asking the Chairmen to support presenting this. She said an internal report needs to be completed to have a presentation so everything should be brought together by the 17th. The committee determined to schedule their next meeting for July 9th at 9:30 AM to finish up the survey results and finalize presentation to the legislature. Ms. Hersey asked if the RSVP volunteers will directly enter data as that would save time. That will be explored.
Mr. Branca went on to say that Time Warner is pushing networks to go from analog to digital because analog takes up a lot of bandwidth. If they free up the bandwidth then they will be able to provide more HD channels and increases speeds on download however sending information is pretty slow due to their network design.
Mr. Dineen presented updated maps that look at density areas and includes information from Frontier Citizens. He said that densities appear hit or miss and the biggest area is on the City boundary. Mr. Dineen distributed information of the last grant application approvals stating that Solvay was the largest amount given by the state. He noted that the amounts do not appear to be very large to get a whole project done. Mr. Branca said they received theirs because Solvay has a public utility and follows the National Grid footprint. He said it is obvious that there will not be enough money to fund a full County project and we need to look at partners and other funding sources.
When Mr. Branca left the room the committee discussed their preference on how to move forward and the consensus was to partner with New Visions and their technology as they are willing to put forth efforts identified by the committee.
Mr. Branca returned and asked to speak with the County’s IDA/BDC. Mr. Dineen will arrange a meeting.
Ms. Price stated that the committee started in March and is ready to make a presentation in July and that demonstrates the hard work and commitment of this group. Discussion took place regarding the need to prepare a resolution for the legislature. Mr. Dineen asked if should be in general terms or name New Visions specifically. Mr. Fitzgerald questioned why we wouldn’t be specific as no one else has come forward to provide these services. It was suggested that they ask for support to bring broadband over power lines and partner with New Visions and leave it open that other companies have the same opportunity with a resolution of support.
Mr. Fitzgerald asked how Time Warner receive their franchises. Mr. Branca replied that they are done town by town and the City, typically for 5 years and are non exclusive. Mr. Klein asked what we tell NYSAC customers. Mr. Branca said he intends to talk to NYSAC. Mr. Fitzgerald asked Mr. Branca if there are other companies like his across the State. Mr. Branca answered that there a few across the Country. He added it is a complicated process of taking telecom, internet and cable and there are complications of running frequencies on the same power lines.
On motion of Mr. Klein, seconded by Ms. Hersey and all voting aye, Mr. Dineen was directed to prepare a resolution in support of broadband and New Visions to be presented at the next Ag/Planning Committee meeting. Mr. Dineen asked if Mr. Branca had a sample resolution from another County. Mr. Branca said the resolution in Solvay was to contract with his company.
Meeting adjourned at 10:32 AM
Minutes prepared by Susan
Morgan, Clerk of the Legislature