The following post was written by Christina Sonsire, a candidate for Chemung County Legislature in the 7th District and administrator of the Chemung County Matters blog, and Tony Pucci, a candidate for Chemung County Legislature in the 1st District.
As we campaign in our respective districts, one of the concerns that residents express is the lack of access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access, particularly in the rural areas. It has become clear to us that what many in this country take for granted as an essential utility for enhancing our personal and professional lives remains unavailable for a significant number of residents in Chemung County.
What steps has Chemung County taken to ensure that all of our residents have broadband access? How effective have these steps been? What can be done to address the problem?
In November 2010, almost eight years ago, the Chemung County Legislature passed a resolution authorizing development of a “Regional Open Access Fiber Optic Backbone” in conjunction with Schuyler and Steuben counties.
Each county committed local taxpayer monies, along with a significant investment from Corning, Inc., to build out this foundational backbone that became known as the Southern Tier Network.
According to the STN website, “the network was built to support the needs of public safety, improve broadband access in rural areas, increase competition and the level of telecommunications services throughout the region….”
The network has now been completed; however, broadband access remains woefully inadequate in many areas.