We talk a lot about rural broadband gaps and efforts to deliver service in the country, but it’s rare that we discuss some of the issues in more urban areas… long story short… it’s an issue and Rochester is one of may cities trying to do something about it.
Rochester, NY is currently developing a plan to connect homes and businesses to a tiered, subscription based service that would provide free (slow) service to everyone and faster service if you can afford to pay for it. According to a consultant on the project, if even 20% of the users subscribe for faster service, the project could pay for itself in four years.
What makes this even more interesting to me are the how and why… the Rochester school district has been struggling to find a way to bridge the education gap between its poorer students and those with internet access. It has observed that while there are free publicly available access points, like libraries, getting students to libraries presents a challenge for families with working parents. Leveraging a technology grant, the school district intends to partner with a private firm to build and operate the municipal network that will deliver service to all households and businesses in the Rochester area.
Unfortunately, there is still a funding gap the city is trying to overcome. The state of New York has grant funds for the purpose of increasing broadband access, however, those funds are reserved for areas where there is no service. Rochester does have several private broadband providers, but for a great many people in the city, that access is not affordable.
It will be interesting to see how they solve this problem. And on the off chance any of our readership has the ability to chip in, I have a feeling the city of Rochester would appreciate a holiday gift.