DFT Communications of Fredonia has announced that it has received a NYS grant through Southern Tier West Development Foundation, which will enable it to provide wireless high-speed Internet connections to some towns and villages in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus County for the first time.
Employing a less traditional wireless technology, the project expands access to broadband service through WiMAX (World-wide Interoperability for Microwave Access) to previously unserved and un-derserved areas including Arkwright, East Dunkirk, Silver Creek, Sheridan, Hanover, Forestville, Find-ley Lake, and Mina.
The project also provides wireless Internet connectivity to the village of Little Valley and Gowanda and the city of Olean.
The grant, in the amount of $526,856, was awarded to DFT based on its estimates of project costs, with the telecommunications company investing $56,000 and a local match by Cattaraugus County of $50,000. The announcement comes on the heels of a 2011 grant by Southern West Development Found-ation which funded DFT WiMAX service to parts of Celoron, Forestville, Lake-wood, and Sinclairville, as well as the towns of Busti, Charlotte, Chautauqua, Ellery, Ellicott, Hanover, North Harmony and Sheridan.
Funding for the latest project came from the Connect NY Broadband Grant Program. Eighteen broadband projects across New York State were selected to receive Connect NY Broadband grants based on the endorsement of the Regional Councils and technical scores awarded by a committee who analyzed and ranked projects competing for the $25 million in funding.
"Southern Tier West has viewed the deployment of high speed Internet as an essential component to both community and economic development efforts across Chautauqua Coun-ty," stated Rich Zink, treasurer of the Southern Tier West Development Found-ation."
Due to the rural nature of where they live, many residents in the Southwestern counties of New York state find getting high speed Internet difficult, if not impossible. For many in outlying areas, traditional broadband (like DSL or cable) is simply not offered.
Low population densities, large amounts of open space and hills have deterred traditional carriers from investing in facility upgrades and equipment improvements. Satellite and cellular providers offer an alternative, but at a high price and low data caps.
David Pihl, vice president of operations at DFT Communications stated, "the technology (WiMAX) existed, but the business case looked pretty bleak without the grant," which he said covers the cost of engineering, equipment installation, fiber optic backhaul and a required radio system. Along with building and installation, DFT will also provide 24/7 tech support and various Internet services for its WiMAX customers.
Bill Daly, administrative director and CEO of the Chautauqua County IDA, said Southern Tier West has been instrumental in working on this grant, characterizing the project as "a great partnership with DFT Communications.
"Whenever we can take broadband to another area, it's a wonderful thing," Daly added.
Pihl said the project is currently in the engineering phase, and will utilize existing towers in Chau-tauqua and Cattaraugus to deliver the service. Using "line of sight" technology from each location to a nearby tower, WiMAX requires a radio receiver at each location with an external antenna, which ultimately connects to an all-fiber optic network to the Internet.
Customers using WiMAX can expect download speeds of up to 6Mpbs, allowing them to easily download music and stream movies and other content. "With a standard dial-up connection, downloading an email with a picture attached can easily take half an hour, with WiMAX that same email will download in seconds," states Pihl.
Pihl says the technology has practical uses, which will allow people to work from home, support small rural businesses, and could also help assist farmers who use the Internet for agricultural applications.
The first customers to receive WiMAX will be in DFT's current service area including East Dunkirk, Sheridan, Forestville and parts of Silver Creek, South Dayton and possibly Cherry Creek.
However, Pihl said the technology will permit the company to grow its customer base into Cattaraugus County by enabling it to provide the service to those regions.
Customers interested in WiMAX high speed Internet from Netsync Broadband services are invited to call 673-3000 or 1-877-653-3100 or visit the dial-up friendly web site www.netsync.net/wimax for more information.
Prequalification for WiMAX service is required.