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CBN Connect Report Cites Need for Better Broadband Service

PLATTSBURGH, NY (October 10, 2007) - A consultant's report recommends the construction of a fiber optic and wireless broadband network for Clinton, Essex, and Franklin counties that would be a wholesale "carrier's carrier," providing open services broadband transport for existing and new broadband providers. It would not provide retail services to end users. The research project was funded by federal grants through the offices of Senator Hillary Clinton and Congressman John McHugh.

The report, commissioned by the Research Foundation of SUNY on behalf of the CBN Connect (community broadband network) Advisory Board, and conducted by Stratum Broadband and Xit Telecom, provides market research and needs analysis for the CBN Connect project.

CBN Connect seeks to expand broadband services in the Clinton, Franklin, and Essex County area of New York, including a section of the Adirondack Park. The CBN Connect project is being coordinated by the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Andy Abdallah, chair of the CBN Connect Advisory Board, said that the report answers many of the questions needed to move forward with the ambitious project. "This report describes the opportunities provided by a robust fiber network that is available to all carriers.  Similar infrastructure has been installed in counties to our west, and in northern Vermont. Our region must have expanded wired and wireless services to be competitive in the global economy."

The report also provides a conceptual technical design for the network.  Forty three individuals, representing hospitals, businesses, colleges, telecom providers, and municipalities, were interviewed during the study over the summer of 2007.

CBN Connect would provide wholesale transport services to service providers. This will enable service providers to offer state of the art broadband services in more underserved areas and allow many users to have a choice of service provider.

In addition, cellular telephone service could be significantly enhanced if CBN Connect is constructed, the consultants found.

According to Stratum Broadband?s John Reynolds, "The region's remoteness and lack of broadband connectivity appears to have stifled general market understanding and appreciation of today?s broadband services and their benefits."

Stratum recommends that CBN Connect should work with carriers to provide better access to their fiber optic networks.  Stratum says that key carriers have expressed support for the CBN Connect concept; more discussion is needed with others.

Through its interviews, the consultants found that potential end users expressed widespread consensus and enthusiastic support for the CBN Connect project, as well as agreement with its stated objectives:

  • Expanding affordable wired and wireless broadband coverage including cellular coverage;
  • Enabling telecom providers to deliver more cost-effective services, helping them lower the cost of service delivery while increasing revenue by reaching new markets;
  • Enabling better regional collaboration for public safety, medical care, and education;
  • Improving social, cultural, and economic development within the Tri-county region; and
  • Helping the region better capitalize on its unique character.

The result, according to Reynolds, is the creation of a "smart community" which allows organizations to create virtual alliances and partnerships, sharing skills, costs, and network access with one another.  The reports says that the real long term return from CBN Connect to the Adirondack region will be the infrastructure to enable regional collaboration and regional solutions to shared problems.

According to the consultant's recommendations, CBN Connect could outsource as much of its operation as possible, contracting with other firms to support the requirements for network operations, network accounting, and maintenance and repair.

 Year 1  Year 2  Year 3  Year 4
 $2,997,100 $5,031,949   $6,644,487  $8,240,815

Figure 1-2: Summary of Revenue Projections based on a $35M capital investment

Funding for the capital costs will most likely be a combination of debt and grants.  The proposed CBN Connect not-for-profit corporation would build new telecommunications infrastructure and own the assets for the wholesale services to be offered. It would be responsible for the financial viability and success of the wholesale business.

The next step of the project is to complete the business plan necessary to seek the funding and to guide the engineering design stages.


Julie West
CBN Connect Project Coordinator

Howard Lowe
Director of Economic Development
Technical Assistance Center

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