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New telecom provider courts Lumberland

GLEN SPEY, NY — It might be the first hint of change, or it might be a new negotiating point for the town, but it appears there is a new kid in the Lumberland telecommunications market.

Ray Brzezkinski and Terry Flood, representatives of FirstLight, a long-line regional telecom provider in New York and New England, introduced their company to the town board last week.

Brzezkinski, the company’s senior sales director, described the alternate provider as the largest regional provider, with 14,000 route miles of company-owned fiber-optic cable in place and recent growth exceeding 400%. “We’re very local and we offer new technology that you may not be familiar with,” he said

Flood, a former Frontier employee who lives in Orange County, said the company is already contracting with the Eldred Central School District (ECS) for its buildings in Eldred and Glen Spey,  plus Camp Lokauda and Brookwood Camp, and has cable in place along Haring and Proctor roads. “We’re right outside on the poles,” he said. “We’re not Frontier, not copper. We own our fiber network, and it’s not susceptible to weather problems like copper,” he added.

The town government currently has Frontier telephone service and Time-Warner internet service, which is now called Spectrum. But the state Public Service Commission (PSC) has dropped its franchise agreement with Charter Communications, the company that owns Spectrum, which amounts to ordering Charter to leave the state by the end of this year. Charter and the PSC were still negotiating in September, but if the order stands, Frontier is rumored to assume the Spectrum service, which includes Time-Warner Cable.

FirstLight is not now offering TV service. A town government switch of providers would not impact cable TV subscribers until a competitive TV franchise provider appears. But Lumberland government has a history with Time-Warner that might make a switch to a competitive service more attractive.

In September 2016, Supervisor Jenny Mellan announced that an audit of Time-Warner Cable (TWC) franchise payments had revealed that the town had received monthly franchise payments at a rate of 3% over a six-year period, when the agreement the town had signed called for 5%. She then said the missing 2% over the period amounted to $43,748, according to the forensic audit conducted by the Cohen Law Group of New York City. Time-Warner later confirmed that the company owed the town “a little over $40,000” for a multi-year underpayment.

Mellan did not attend the town board’s November meeting, and the board did not comment on the FirstLight presentation.

In other business, the board noted last week’s final adoption of the town’s $2,552,530 budget and the fire department contract which provides $210,000 in the first year of a new three-year deal. The board also approved a request for a school speed zone reduction at the McKenzie School, the $41,823 purchase of a new constables’ all-wheel-drive patrol vehicle, $5,075 for the purchase of seven constables’ safety vests under a 50-50 grant with the U.S. Department of Transportation and an agreement to allow ECS to purchase road salt from the town. The board also noted the Thanksgiving Day community dinner at the town hall, 1 to 5 p.m.


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