Chenango County Joins Regional Approach To Improve Rural Broadband

By: Shawn Magrath

CHENANGO COUNTY - Chenango County officials are weighing an approach to poor broadband internet service that would scrap the idea tackling the issue alone and instead deal with it at a regional level.

The plan entails Chenango County working collaboratively with surrounding counties, including Broome, Cortland, and Delaware to study inadequate broadband services in remote areas and seek funding from state and federal sources to help fix the problem.

The effort’s spearhead by Southern Tier 8, a regional planning agency that offers support for economic development in the eastern portion of New York’s Southern Tier Region. The agency’s already developed a committee to compile information about broadband services in each county.

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According to Chenango County Planning Director Shane Butler, the hope is that Chenango County would get “bigger bang for our buck” by working as part of a region than going it alone. He presented the undertaking to the county’s planning and economic development committee during their monthly meeting held last week.

“Due to coronavirus, broadband has been a main issue in Chenango County, across the state, and nationwide,” said Butler.

Butler, who’s also chairing Southern Tier 8’s newly formed committee, said planning agencies in the western southern tier have been successful in taking a similar approach. Those counties have seen more funding for a fiber buildout to areas where reliable broadband was nonexistent.

Southern Tier 8 has sent letters to 49 school districts, colleges, and healthcare facilities in the region inviting them to be part of the effort.

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