GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) — Town Supervisor Nate McMurray is trying to bring something unique to Grand Island, and so far, he’s the only municipality that’s gotten this far.
He wants to build a broadband backbone along a mile stretch in the center of town to give residents faster speeds, and at the very least, a choice.
“He said straight out, ‘They’re ripping you off.'” McMurray said quoting New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “So they’ve been ripping us off for years.”
Schneiderman made those comments earlier this month, when he announced a massive lawsuit against Time Warner Cable/Spectrum, who he said couldn’t deliver on services is promised customers for years.
That lawsuit was a call to arms, of sorts, for McMurray.
McMurray says whatever slow speeds most experience in the region are faster than what they experience on Grand Island.
“There’s times at night here, where you can download those speed apps, my speed will be 5 megabits per second, which is literally the speed you get in developing countries,” McMurray said.
But McMurray and the town board have been busy.
They unanimously agreed to participate in a study to build a broadband network along a nearly one-mile stretch of Baseline Road.
McMurray says there’s no doubt.
Speeds tested around noon at the Grand Island Town Hall showed speeds less than 2 megabits per second for downloading, and less than one megabit for uploading.
“The idea came from the fact that our broadband on Grand Island is so weak and so poor,” he said.
It’s important for residents. And it’s especially important for attracting businesses.
The infrastructure of the future is broadband. You have to have broadband to do business in the 21st century you need that type of technology. ))
McMurray says costs are reasonable.
For half the cost of a turf football field — about $500,000 — an increasingly common site among high schools across western New York, residents on Grand Island will have the opportunity to have better service than they’re getting now.
And more importantly, they’d have a choice.
“We can pay for this very quickly,” McMurray said. “It’s a very reasonable investment. If you think about it like this, most schools in WNY have pretty decent football fields. … So, from a priority perspective, what’s the biggest priority? Quality internet or some of these other things we just take for granted and waste money on.”
McMurray said though the goal may be a rare and lofty one, but he’s eager to take the first few steps.
“Others can build off that first step,” he said. “But if we don’t have that backbone, if we don’t have the courage to have that backbone, it will never happen.”
While Grand Island is the only municipality that’s come forward thus far with plans for its own broadband network, Erie County is nearly complete with its study to extend the reach of broadband internet across the county, said County Executive Mark Poloncarz.
Like Grand Island, they want to give residents in rural and even some urban areas better access and higher speeds, but also a choice when it comes to providers, Poloncarz said.