Weekly Feature

2016-02-04 / Editorials

Other options may bring high-speed Internet to town

Bee Editorial

The topic of bringing high-speed Internet to all areas of Cheektowaga was addressed again at Monday’s Town Board meeting.

Councilman James Rogowski has struggled with Verizon for several years in an effort to get the company to install its FiOS system, or fiber-optic network, throughout the town. Currently, Verizon FiOS is available in parts of North and South Cheektowaga.

Rogowski argues that the lack of high-speed Internet in central parts of Cheektowaga have cost the town business. He said companies who would have moved into empty buildings, such as the American Axle building on Walden Avenue, have passed over Cheektowaga to move into a town with a fiber-optic network.

In July, the Town Board sent a resolution urging state officials to allocate money in the budget to install fiber-optic networks throughout the state. According to Rogowski, Verizon’s response to the town’s questions and demands has been limited. Verizon did state that hooking homes up to high-speed Internet is expensive, and it would take the company too long to recover its investment if it installed a fiber-optic network throughout Cheektowaga.

High-speed Internet is a necessity, specifically for companies and schools. Many jobs require high-speed connections in order to accomplish daily tasks. Areas that cannot offer this capability to companies are at a disadvantage.

More teachers are using the Internet to post homework assignments or lesson plans for students to study at home. Children who live in areas of Cheektowaga without decent Internet access may have a difficult time completing these assignments. They are also deprived of tools available to other students living in parts of town that have high-speed Internet. Since Verizon doesn’t appear to be caving to pressure from the town anytime soon, Rogowski has taken it upon himself to explore other avenues.

“I’m looking for other options. Obviously Verizon is turning a blind eye to this town,” he said during Monday’s meeting.

The councilman is working with people from Erie County, the University at Buffalo and other network companies to find out the cost of wiring the town through a different service.

While research into different options is preliminary, Rogowski is taking positive steps to address this problem that the town has dealt with for years. This initiative might enable the town to take a different route rather than wait for Verizon to change its mind.

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