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Slic Network Solutions broadband project leaps ahead

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NICHOLVILLE – A St. Lawrence County telecommunications provider’s service expansion through the north country has progressed more quickly than expected, thanks to a loan from the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency and Industrial Development Agency.

A subsidiary of Nicholville Telephone Company, Slic Network Solutions Inc. has seen tremendous growth thanks to a $33 million federal stimulus grant to expand broadband Internet access and an $825,000 loan from the River Agency and the IDA which it used to pay the front-end costs of its expansion project.

“Because of the grant and loan we received, we’re about six months ahead of our scheduled projections,” Nicholville Telephone Co. President and CEO Mark J. Dzwonczyk said. “The company has seen $3 to 4 million in revenue to date. That’s about a half a million dollars a year in terms of growth. We’ve went from 35 installations a week to 60, with about 250 new installations a month.”

As of July, Slic had doubled its employees from 24 to 48. Mr. Dzwonczyk said the company is expected hire more employees.

“It’s not an outsourced project,” said Mr. Dzwonczyk. “We’ve six customer service agents from the area who know all the customers by name.”

The only local Internet provider in the area, Slic is offering fiber-optics-based service in Franklin and St. Lawrence counties as far south as Cranberry Lake, as far north as Flackville and Massena, as far east as Malone, west into the town of Oswegatchie, and areas in between that would otherwise not have high-speed Internet access.

Because the company is based in St. Lawrence County, Mr. Dzwonczyk said it can offer direct and faster service than providers based elsewhere.

“A typical cable offers 10 to 20 mega bits per second,” said Mr. Dzwonczyk. “We’re able to offer about 50 to 100 mega bits per second, an offering our competitors can’t match. Our rural customers are surprised when I tell them they have the same speed connection as urbanites in Manhattan.”

With all its growth, Slic said it will be able to pay back its loan to the IDA and River Agency sooner than expected.

“This project is an example of a local, regional, state and federal public-private partnership which will provide economic development and quality of life benefits for years throughout the county and region,” said Industrial Development Agency CEO Patrick J. Kelly.

Soon customers will be able to access Netflix and YouTube right from their televisions, Mr. Dzwonczyk said. By offering high definition television through their existing fiber, the company said it expects to triple its revenue over the next five years, meaning it will be a $10 million company.

“We’re looking to change what we call the economic fabric. If you start enabling really fast, dynamic service, people can now work from home, you will attract more businesseses to the area, and, more importantly, people can be more connected with one another,” Mr. Dzwonczyk said. “Our mission is to connect people to the world and that is a really important mission.”

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