TMCnews Featured Article


October 23, 2009

Bolstering Emergency Communications through Broadband Stimulus

By Michael Dinan, TMCnet Editor


Grant money from the federal government under the broadband stimulus program is needed to bolster emergency response communications in a wide swath of the Empire State, an official with an Albany, N.Y.-based provider of wide area wireless Internet services told TMCnet in an interview.
 
Hudson Valley Wireless, an affiliate of Hudson Valley Communications, serves Albany, Troy, Schenectady and surrounding areas. The company is seeking a $1.2 million grant under the new federal program to strengthen public safety communications. The U.S. Department of Commerce agency that’s overseeing the broadband stimulus program is expected to start awarding grants and loans in about two weeks.
 
Specifically, under HWV’s proposal, existing towers would be used to deliver backup 9-1-1 trunks over upgraded microwave links and broadband service to rural areas.
 
The grant money is important, according to Jason Guzzo, the company’s telecom and infrastructure manager, because some of the targeted areas lack the subscriber density right now for HVW to provide service.
 
“We count on that monthly revenue to pay for our operational costs,” Guzzo told TMCnet in an interview, printed in full below. “Without the grant money we can’t provide service to those areas. It just isn’t economical.”
 
What Guzzo said echoes much of what TMCnet has heard over the past several weeks from ISPs. His thoughts on the application process for broadband stimulus funding – in particular, his take on how the multiple parts of the application eventually come together – was unique.
 
Our full exchange follows.
 
TMCnet: We’ve read the Executive Summary of your application, and clearly the organization feels there’s a strong need for funding. Take us a little bit beyond the numbers. How will U.S. citizens, consumers and businesses benefit if you’re awarded this grant money?
 
Jason Guzzo (pictured left): Our approach to deliver broadband services to rural communities in upstate New York addresses multiple statutory purposes defined in the NOFA. This approach not only strengthens the critical public safety infrastructure, but utilizes their existing communications towers to rebroadcast our wireless broadband services to the rural areas. Creating a partnership with Rensselaer County, N.Y. has allowed us to control our ongoing operational costs and pass those savings to the end user in the form of reliable, affordable and high-speed Internet service.
 
TMCnet: How did you find the application process? What would you recommend the U.S. government tweak in the process, if anything?
 
JG: We originally had a hard time determining eligible communities based upon the definitions in the NOFA. Once we came up with accurate mapping data the application process was fairly straightforward. As with any project of this magnitude, it took a while before the pieces of the puzzle started coming together. Now that the application is complete, I understand why all of the pieces are intertwined.
 
I would like to see a better format for which middle mile summary information is displayed.
 
TMCnet: What would you tell reviewers at NTIA about your organization if you could have one minute to talk to them moments before they looked at your application?
 
JG: I would like the NTIA to know that Hudson Valley Wireless has been operating the largest WISP in upstate New York since 2002. HVW currently provide service to hundreds of homes and businesses in rural areas. We also provide backhaul services for cellular companies and disaster recovery solutions for large enterprise clients.
 
Our key management comes from Hudson Valley Communications founded over 35 years ago. HVC started off as a two-way radio contractor and now focuses on providing customer premise equipment including telephony, computer networking and structured wiring. We currently hold the New York State contract and have been featured in a variety of business journals and national trade magazines.
 
Some of our clients include: financial institutions, retail (national accounts), hospitals, municipal centers, K-12 /higher education, mission-critical data centers, Armed Forces, Fortune 500 companies and even Orange County choppers.
 
We have the experience and track record to do the job right.
 
TMCnet: Tell us in plain terms how important it is for your organization to receive this grant money. If you do not receive government funding, what will you do to improve services in the way you’re seeking?
 
JG: Some areas do not have the subscriber density for us to provide service. We count on that monthly revenue to pay for our operational costs. Without the grant money we can’t provide service to those areas. It just isn’t economical.

Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for TMCnet, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan