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Tribe starts broadband construction work

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AKWESASNE - The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s broadband initiative is beginning the preliminary stages of construction this week, as workers contracted from Oklahoma-based Rocking-O Construction will be installing the first round of Internet connection-enabling hardware.

Broadband Project Manager Brenna Susice said this stage will install what is known as the outside plant, which she said will cost about $5.2 million of the combined grant/loan from the Mohawk Broadband Initiative program.

“It’s... the infrastructure that resides on all the poles and drops from poles to a premise,” she said, adding that this phase should be finished by New Year’s Eve.

A tribal news release said the infrastructure will include marking poles and setting anchors in the ground for guy wire attachments. Ms. Susice said workers will be installing boxes on the side of houses and buildings, which will receive the actual Internet cables once they are installed.

Ms. Susice said once the project is finished in March every house and business in Akwesasne will be broadband Internet-ready.

“One of the advantages of the tribe doing this is it should be at a discounted rate,” Ms. Susice said, adding that Internet providers like Time Warner shouldn’t charge full price because the signals will be sent through tribe-owned and operated infrastructure.

The next phase will be to build the inside plant ,which includes constructing a modular building, which will serve as the network’s brain and an operations building, according to Ms. Susice.

She added the operations building will be adjacent to the former First Americans IGA.

The finished project will bring seven new jobs to the reservation, Ms. Susice said. That breaks down to two outside plant technicians, two inside plant technicians, one general manager, one operations manager and one customer service representative, according to Ms. Susice.

She added that the general manager will be hired from the outside, will train the operations manager to take over their duties and be eventually phased out. Also, Rocking-O Construction will give on-the-job training to community members who will be hired to permanent positions.

“We wanted to make sure it was home-grown,” Ms. Susice said.

Ms. Susice said the funding for the project came from the federal Mohawk Broadband initiative grant/loan program, which the tribe was awarded in 2010. She said $10 million was given in grant money and $528,000 was given as a loan.

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