BRASHER FALLS - With fiber optic line being laid by Slic Network Solutions around the county, the company is now exploring offering cable television in the coming years.
Slic Network Solutions President and General Manager Phillip J. Wagschal said Thursday that Slic Network Solutions had received funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and that money was being used to lay fiber optic lines that can be used to address the needs of those in unserved areas of the county.
"Part of that will be providing phone, Internet and IP (Internet Protocol) TV over those facilities. That network will roll out over the next three years," Mr. Wagschal said.
Slic has sent letters to town officials in areas where they plan to establish the services, requesting a franchise agreement. Brasher Town Supervisor M. James Dawson Jr. told his board members Wednesday that they had received a letter from Slic.
"One of the requirements is that we obtain from each town a franchise agreement," Mr. Wagschal said. "At this point Slic is attempting to facilitate the franchise process with the local townships at a meeting at the end of the month."
That meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Best Western in Canton.
"What we have done to try and facilitate that process is we're currently working with the Public Service Commission to have a meeting of the townships that we are attempting to serve with the Public Service Commission to help facilitate the process. They're going to do a presentation on the steps we're going through to do a successful franchise. That's the meeting in Canton."
Mr. Wagschal said Slic doesn't plan to compete with Time Warner. Rather, he said, they're moving into areas that aren't served by the company.
"The areas where we're going in St. Lawrence County is only about 17 percent of the homes that even have access to Time Warner. It's a very small number, 17 percent that have Verizon and Time Warner. Really, in essence there's very little competition to Time Warner in what we're doing. We're going where they're not," he said.
"At some point in the future we may add on to the network," he added. "Then we'll be in direct competition with them."
Part of Slic's $27.8 million in funding is a loan and the remainder is grant money, Mr. Wagschal said.
"There are a lot of strings attached as far as reporting and correct use," he said. "Basically we couldn't provide the service in these locations if there wasn't financial assistance from the federal government. There's no business case that really works for five houses in a mile. Some of the areas are that sparse. That is a bit of a challenge, but we're happy to be part of it, reaching out into the places that are unserved.
"I think it's going to be really good for the north country. It's very good news," Mr. Wagschal said.
Earlier this year St. Lawrence County lawmakers went on record supporting the Potsdam telecommunications company's application for a $27.8 million grant for broadband Internet expansion in 16 communities.
Mr. Wagschal estimated their effort to construct 660 miles of fiber optic line following existing power lines would serve 4,415 homes, 112 businesses and 30 community institutions in sparsely populated areas where large telecom providers are not willing to invest.
That expansion will bring not only television service, but also high speed, broadband Internet and phone service to the towns of Louisville, Norfolk, Stockholm, Hopkinton, Parishville, Waddington, Madrid, Potsdam, Lisbon, Canton, Pierrepont, Clare, Oswegatchie, Fine, Clifton and Piercefield.