Mohawk Networks preparing bid in effort to bring broadband to remote areas of Franklin County

Written by FRANK DIFIORE.

MALONE — Mohawk Networks is preparing a bid for the next round of the state’s broadband initiative.

Alison Doctor, interim CEO for Mohawk Networks, met with Franklin County legislators Thursday afternoon to give a basic overview of the bidding process.

The company and its subsidiary, North Country Broadband, are preparing their bids for Phase 3 of the New NY Broadband Initiative, which is intended to bring high-speed internet access to sparsely populated areas of the state.

 

The initiative has set aside $500 million in state funding and leveraged $500 million in private investment as part of the program.

One of the major focuses of the program has been attempting to expand access for low-population-density areas, where companies see little incentive to set up because the cost of installing necessary infrastructure often far outstrips the expected return.

Doctor made note of the costs associated with the traditional broadband infrastructure of fiber cables. Fiber to the home (FTTH) delivery can incur approximately $20,000 in installation costs.

To avoid such costly measures, said Doctor, Mohawk Networks would utilize fixed wireless internet transmitters installed on transmission towers, such as the 911 towers already installed in much of Franklin County.

The technology makes broadband much less infrastructure intensive, so long as a clear, unobstructed path can be made from the home to the tower.

Doctor’s presentation made note of several census blocks that were charted as “un-served” by the state, with concentrations of such blocks in Akwesasne and Bellmont.

There are also several blocks in the central portion of the county that qualify for additional funding from the federal Connect America Fund, said Doctor, that can make Mohawk Networks’ transmitters more feasible.

Doctor cited her own experience as a telecommunication health care specialist, noting the impact that high-speed internet access can have in rural areas and the need that Mohawk Networks sees in areas like Franklin County.

“It impacts schools. It impacts our kids,” said Doctor.

Doctor did acknowledge that the application for Phase 3 would not be easy. The initiative’s first two rounds have seen half of the overall funding awarded — for the most part, said Doctor, on less-costly projects. In the later rounds, more seemingly expensive-to-operate areas are now competing from a smaller fund.

Nonetheless, continued Doctor, Mohawk Networks will be assessing different areas to see which census blocks will allow the best bids for service to be accepted by the state. Part of that preparation will include seeking approval for access to the towers and clearing environmental regulations.

Mohawk Networks was awarded $6.4 million in the previous round of the Initiative for the activation of five towers in Lewis County.

Another company, Slic Network Solutions, is also planning to bid on census blocks in Franklin County, including in the southern part of the county. Slic officials met with county legislators in April to review its approach.