Bringing Broadband to Tupper Lake

$200,000 in federal funding for 5.5 miles of fiber
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 7:39 PM EDT
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TUPPER LAKE, N.Y. (WCAX) -The internet was important before the pandemic and even more so now, as life as we know it moved online. But, not everywhere has access.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was in Tupper Lake on Wednesday to present a $200,000 grant to bring fiber to the town. But that solution shows the underlying problem many people in rural communities are facing: the bill that comes with being connected.

The federal grant money is coming to Tupper Lake to improve broadband access. Lawmakers compare the internet to electricity.

Right now about 10% of the community has zero access.

David Wolf with the Development Authority of the North Country said, “I think we have a pretty good count. That was an important part of this was to be pretty sure that we weren’t duplicating somebody else’s effort.”

There is already fiber in the region but a survey shows residents and businesses do not have quality access and the reliability of the connection doesn’t meet the community’s needs. Tupper Lake Town Supervisor Patricia Littlefield said, “To provide that locally is a huge win for Tupper Lake.”

The money comes from the Northern Border Regional Commission. It allows for 5.5 miles of fiber to connect the Route 3 corridor, bringing access to 125 properties. Stefanik, on the NBRC, said, “As we know, broadband is more important than ever.”

This network will be municipal-owned but they are looking to hire a company to run it. The town says the service will have different price points. Wolf said, “Seventy to eighty percent of them have access to broadband available but they just can’t afford it.”

A cheaper subscription will get you enough broadband so that you can work or attend classes from home. But you’ll pay more to stream movies and play games.

“Identifying where these people are and having some different pricing structures,” said Wolf.

The town is hopeful a reliable connection will work to make Tupper Lake a hot spot for new businesses and people fleeing the cities.

Littlefield said, “This is just going to bring that much more business to Tupper Lake and economic development for people who will know that we have good, reliable internet here. We have good high-speed broadband, come to Tupper Lake! Set up your business here.”

So what about a timeline? The Development Authority of the North Country says they want to see this up and running by this time next year. They are still working out the final plans but want to start putting fiber into the ground by March.

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