Town of Dryden looks at creating its own internet service for residents

Local News

DRYDEN, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The Tompkins County Town of Dryden is looking at becoming its own internet service provider for its residents.

A draft feasibility study of the project has just been completed for the Town.

According to the Dryden Town Supervisor, it would make Dryden the first municipality in New York State to create and operate an internet service for its residents.

Jason Leifer and Deputy Town Supervisor Dan Lamb on Tuesday met with the consultant about the study.

“Right now, the feasibility study is pointing towards doing this,” Lamb tells NewsChannel 9.

Leifer says, “We should easily be able to do this, and we should be able to be the first ones in the State to do it.”

He says the first estimates put the cost of building out an internet service at about $12 million, but he says that’s an early number which could fluctuate up or down.

The Town, Leifer says, would look for grant opportunities and borrowing to pay for the cost of the rollout. He says they would need to run new fiber, or in some cases, use existing infrastructure, and then have to connect to an internet backbone. Many of the features associated with the service itself, Leifer adds, could be contracted out.

Lamb adds, “We’re trying to do this in a very deliberate manner where we’re gathering input and we’re looking at how this thing would be paid for so it doesn’t cost our taxpayers one dime. This will be subscriber paid for.”

One of the first things they had to figure out was how many people in Dryden even wanted the Town to be its own internet service provider.

Based on the surveys that have gone out and come back already, they say the buy-in rate from people around here for municipal internet service would be well over 70 percent.

Lamb says, “And when you take the profit motive out of a business operation like this, you’re able to deliver the service, which is essential to life in Dryden and life all over the country. You’re able to deliver that service for a much more legitimate price.”

The Town would own it and the Board would be accountable for price and service, which Leifer says can likely be faster and at a lesser cost than what people have now, if they have internet at all currently.

Lamb says, “What we’re trying to do here is have a universal model, almost like the Postal Service, where any resident’s going to have access, enfranchised, to have internet access and it really opens up this whole community to a different type of development.”

“Education requires it, businesses require it, you have farms that can use it to control remote devices and it actually makes a town like Dryden more attractive for people and business to move to,” Leifer tells NewsChannel 9.

He says they are still collecting surveys until the end of the summer and sometime this Fall would likely decide whether to go forward or scrap the idea.

If they do move ahead, both say it would be done in phases over a few years starting with the most heavily populated areas first and then building out to everyone.

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