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December 28, 2011

 

Homer broadband push needs additional signatures

Syracuse company says the 500 collected are not enough; 500 more needed

By STEVE HUGHES
Staff Reporter
shughes@cortlandstandardnews.net

HOMER — After over a year of discussions, meetings, canvassing neighborhoods and collecting 520 signatures, Town Supervisor Fred Forbes thought Homer was on its way to finally having affordable broadband Internet access.
Not quite.
New Visions, the Syracuse-based company that promised to provide that broadband access to the town and the village, told Forbes earlier this month that the group would need to collect 500 more signatures.
At the first meeting last March, the company told organizers it needed 500 signatures to show there was enough interest in the company’s services.
The company focuses on bringing digital phone, television and broadband Internet to rural areas using existing power lines.
Forbes said despite the delays, the savings and value of New Visions’ services would be worth it.
“I look forward to when we reach our goal,” he said. “The value it will bring to Homer will be unparalleled.”
The combined population of the town and village of Homer is 9,393, and there are about 3,500 housing units, according to the 2009 U.S. census data.
Carmen Branca Jr., president of New Visions, and Lisa Corless, director of marketing, did not return phone calls requesting comment.
Some customers are already seeing the result of competition, even though there is not a single New Visions customer in Homer.
Subscribers to Time Warner Cable received letters saying the company is lowering the price of their television, phone and Internet package to $90 a month with a one year contract.
Representatives from Time Warner Cable did not return calls for comment.
Some of the more rural residents in Homer buy services from multiple companies to meet their needs. Those services cost extra though because they do not come as part of a package.
Carl Boise, of Gulf Kinney Road, said in October that he pays over $200 a month for services from three companies.
Time Warner Cable and Verizon refuse to provide broadband access to some of the rural areas in Homer.
During meetings in September and October with Homer residents interested in New Visions’ services, Branca told them the company would connect every home that was interested, all at the same price.
Stephen and Helen Leet, of East Homer, collected 220 signatures in an effort to reach the goal and bring broadband access to their home.
When they asked Time Warner several years ago to run a fiber optic line to their house, they were told it would cost them approximately $5,000 because of the high cost of copper, he said.
Hearing the news that New Visions wanted them to double their goal was difficult, Stephen Leet said.
“It really took the wind out of our sails,” he said. “We canvassed a lot of houses and 90 percent of them wanted to sign up for this.”
Now all that’s left for the Leets to do is wait and see.
“We’ll wait ’til the next meeting with New Visions and we’ll go from there,” Leet said. “We’re still willing to go out and collect more signatures because we really want this to come here.”
No future meeting has been scheduled.

 

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