Axcess Ontario brings high-speed broadband to rural New York

Government executives who are curious about the specific projects that are likely to result from the FCC’s National Broadband Plan might want to study Axcess Ontario, the county-established nonprofit deploying a fiber network in Ontario County, N.Y.

County officials met with the FCC, May 4, to explain their broadband strategy. The program, much of which is already implemented, focuses on snaking a 180-mile fiber backhaul throughout all municipalities in Ontario County. Any service provider will be free to extend its network equipment from the backhaul to provide services to homes and businesses.

Unlike numerous similar attempts in other parts of the country, Ontario County funded its network without dollars from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Those who created Axcess Ontario were insistent the project shouldn’t rely on the availability of outside funding, according to Edward Hemminger, CIO of Ontario County.

The network’s startup costs were $7.5 million, which the municipality generated through the Ontario County Office of Economic Development/Industrial Development Agency. The organization is a quasi-government agency created by the state to generate economic activity. Businesses pay the agency for various services, the revenue from which pays for initiatives like Axcess Ontario…

The payback on the county’s investment will be spread over 25 years. This long-term return on investment plan enables Axcess Ontario to charge providers inexpensive rates for using the fiber. Hemminger said this advantage made providing connectivity to underserved areas more affordable than doing so for private companies…

The county started planning how to implement Axcess Ontario in 2001 when businesses began threatening to leave the area because of poor broadband access. With 107 miles of the network already deployed, five new companies have relocated to Ontario County, partially due to Axcess Ontario, according to Hemminger.

The nonprofit has no employees. All work done for the organization is on a contract basis. Axcess Ontario expects to finish deploying fiber by December 2010.

Phew! I passed this along to geeks I know who work for the city of Santa Fe and for Santa Fe County.

My guess is that pigs will fly before something like this happens here.

First off, our politicians feel duty-bound to reach out for those diminishing federal stimulus dollars. We’re one of the poor states that always gets more back than we put into federal government coffers.

Second, we have way too many loonybirds who combine with NIMBYs to block anything truly productive. The conversion of the old railyard in Santa Fe to public and private use – only took 10 years of discussion. WiFi access in downtown Santa Fe is being delayed because of threats and lawsuits from nutballs who fear the increase in RF radiation will grow back their vestigial gill covers.

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