Broadband and Cell Service for All Woodstockers (10/08/09)

All Woodstockers deserve cell service and broadband access. I am working hard to make this a reality and with the help of my fellow Woodstockers, we can succeed.

Cell service is a near-essential component of 21st century life. It is has been available to 80% of Woodstock’s population since 2007. There is no such service for the 20% of us that live west of the Bearsville center (about half of our town’s area). To get it we need one or more of the possible providers—AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile—to commit to providing coverage. That it has taken Woodstock this long to get only this far is an unfortunate reality.

My opponent in this year’s election for Town Supervisor, a member of the Town Board for a dozen years, fought against expanding service by opposing cell towers in Woodstock. Fortunately, wiser heads in Town government prevailed. My opponent says she will “demand” that carriers provide cell service to Woodstock. Then what? Neighboring Shandaken erected a cell tower, hoping to attract carriers. None, so far, are interested: it’s a matter of simple economics. The carriers, sadly, are not public service utilities but for-profit corporations, and if they see no profit potential, they will not invest.

Broadband service is another crucial component of 21st century life. My office contacts Time-Warner several times a week to bring this to fruition for our residents. Last spring, I rewrote completely our long-expired franchise agreement to include the residents at the ends of Town roads and enable easier access to private roads, as well as to switch on the educational Channel 20 from the Onteora schools. I also worked throughout the summer with the County Executive’s office to aid their application for stimulus monies to provide small-tower-based “last-mile build-out” technology for residents on Town and private roads, which we hope will become a reality within 24 months.

I have been involved in business using the Internet since 1993. As Town Supervisor, I have saved the town thousands by helping to maintain Town computers myself. I have completely designed the Town website with more information and links to local establishments than has ever been seen before. I know how important broadband service is to the 5% of Woodstockers who have no coverage, and I have been working very hard to change that. I will never rest in this effort.

It would help if every Woodstocker that wants cell service writes me at the Town Offices and says so in their correspondence. This would be tangible evidence of need that I could use to attract the attention of a provider. We did this with broadband this summer and based on this information Time-Warner was able to add some areas they weren’t considering in next year’s build-out budget. All Woodstockers deserve cell service and broadband access. I am working hard to make this a reality and with the help of my fellow Woodstockers, we can succeed.


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