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Opinion: Armstrong Internet, Come On Down!


“…please come down from the hills!!” Consumer pleads with Armstrong to expand local network

Op-Ed by Michael Stone,

Approximately four years ago I made my first home purchase, prompting me to move from Hornell to Andover. One of my hard-line requirements when searching for a home was the availability of high speed internet, as my several jobs all require high availability connectivity. My new home met this requirement, but I was moving from an area that had dedicated fiber lines through Empire Access and downgrading to cable internet service from Spectrum.

Ever since moving, I have been a Spectrum subscriber but have always kept one eye open for an fiber offerings to come into the area. Why is that? In short: fiber internet is faster, more reliable, and with provider competition comes competetive pricing. Cable is subject to environmental issues on the pole during incliment weather, its speed can be affected by your neighbors, is typically more expensive overall, and is asynchronous – meaning the upload speed offered is usually about 10% of the download speed.

With synchronous fiber, if you have 1Gbps download, you also have 1Gbps upload. Your speed is also consistent without the burden of neighbors’ usage habits affecting your service across copper lines like cable. This likely doesn’t matter much to most residential users, but it does matter to me and it certainly matters to many companies and industries in the area who may rely on cloud services which can lean on upload speeds just as much as download.

So it has been with a certain degree of frustration that I have seen the only viable fiber provider in the area, Armstrong, completely avoid the villages of Allegany County. Looking at the availability maps they provide on their website, their fiber service is available to many of the rural homes in the outlying townships surrounding our villages (which is fantastic and should be applauded), but they make no availability in the denser populations of the villages that lie in the heart of those townships.

Wellsville, Andover, Belmont, Cuba, Friendship, Almond, Alfred… they are surrounded by green availability, and completely sparse within where so many people reside. Fiber, fiber everywhere, but not a packet to capture.

I have asked Armstrong representatives many times why that is and I have never been able to get a solid answer. The best informal and unverified conclusion someone has been able to offer is that the government subsidies that have allowed for rural fiber expansion are rigid in their address coverage requirements and without those subsidies, there is no financial incentive to make new runs elsewhere.

I submit to Armstrong that making new runs without immediate financial incentive is still a viable business model and building infrastructure without subsidies is still a sound investment, especially with a connected backbone to tap into surrounding us on all sides. The people of Allegany County are worth the investment; all of us.

I notice your booth set up at the Taste of Wellsville, sitting happily in an area you do not cover. I notice your vehicle proudly driving in the Andover 4th of July parade, puttering down a street in an area you do not cover. For the sake of so many businesses and people in Allegany County, I request that Armstrong do the right thing and please come on down from the hills to provide reliable synchronous internet to those wanting choices in their providers.

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