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Contact Information

Catherine Covert, Clerk
Governor Daniel D. Tompkins Building
121 E. Court Street
Ithaca, NY  14850
(607) 274-5434
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 Welcome to...

The Tompkins and Cayuga Ubiquitous 
Last Mile Coverage Project

  Ensuring the needs of residents, commerce, and government by meeting the target of universal broadband coverage throughout our communities.

 Project Narrative

The Tompkins and Cayuga Ubiquitous Last Mile Coverage Project expands last-mile service to over 95% of unserved residents and businesses in Tompkins and southern Cayuga Counties, while simultaneously addressing subscription rates and digital literacy. The Project involves a variety of stakeholders and partners—from private sector to K-12 and higher education to government to workforce agencies to community non-profits—all of which are participating at various stages of development and implementation.

Using a fixed wireless design, the Project will expand broadband services to an estimated population of more than 5,700 households, 53 businesses, and 120 Community Anchor institutions. Households and businesses in the target service area will have up to 32 Mbps download speeds depending on location. All customers will get a minimum of 1.5 Mbps upstream speeds.

This Project serves two Regional Economic Development zones by creating an extensive public-private partnership, which will provide nearly 100% coverage to unserved residents and businesses. This initiative is unique not only because of its wide partnership and support from community institutions, but because of the strong cooperation it represents between two local private sector companies that make this solution a reality. Ubiquitous coverage is achieved in the most cost effective manner possible while exceeding the State's new minimum standards.

Guiding Principles

About the Project

The Collaboration

A Model for Other NYS Communities Seeking Broadband

Project Contacts

Related Documents

Guiding Principles

  • Broadband service needs to be available to all residents, providing accessibility that plays a vital role in contemporary life.
  • Broadband service that isn’t affordable isn’t accessible; both the service itself and the devices needed to access it must be affordable.
         -  According to studies, after three years in an area where broadband is newly accessible, as few as 19% of households may sign up for a service,          
            compared to approximately 70% of residents in areas with long established broadband availability. Hence:
  • Awareness is paramount. People have to know that the service is available and how the service will benefit them.
  • Education is the key to broadband adoption and to making efficient use of broadband service.

Collaboration with community institutions can effectively reach people, providing the foundation of our comprehensive Project.

About the Project

 The Project provides critical infrastructure to support a well-demonstratedlast-mile serviceneed in Tompkins and Cayuga Counties. Farmers and other small businesses in our rural areas need last-mile service to build their businesses, including access to entrepreneurial development resources such as online collaboration software, webinar platforms and videoconferencing.

Increased reliance on Electronic Health Records means that doctors must have electronic access from their homes while “on-call.” Likewise, patients with an emergency need to be able to send high resolution images of symptoms and situations. And students in our local K-12 school systems need to be able to conduct online research and access online learning tools in order to meet various class requirements. It is clear that the Internet plays a critical role in supporting businesses, educating students, encouraging citizen involvement, and connecting our population to the world. The reverse is also important: the absence of broadband Internet retards economic progress, inhibits political engagement, reduces attractiveness to potential residents, and isolates both individuals and the community from participation in the global culture.

The Project recognizes that it is not enough to address infrastructure and service availability alone. Through strategic public partnerships the Project also addresses adoption via intentional and targeted outreach and marketing to promote awareness of service availability. Additionally, it focuses on digital literacy by facilitating collaboration among adult education agencies, Workforce Investment Boards, libraries, schools, and community organizations to create a network of training resources. Finally, accessible, inexpensive service, even when coupled with awareness and education doesn't help if a resident can't afford a computer or other device. This Project also includes a partnership with a local Reuse Center that will provide inexpensive refurbished computers for approximately $45.  The cost includes a computer, monitor, keyboard, and mouse plus spreadsheet, word processing, and browser software and training to residents in the target service areas.

Serving two regional economic development areas, The Tompkins and Cayuga Ubiquitous Last Mile Coverage Project is consistent with plans set forth by the Central New York and Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs): to expand high-speed Internet, stimulate local business growth and job creation, and to enhance the economic well-being of the regions. Leveraging existing infrastructure and funding sources, it is planned with an eye toward the future, offering a long-lasting and sustainable technological foundation that easily accommodates further growth in broadband demand.

Project Target Areas      

Tompkins County
Towns of Caroline, Enfield, Newfield, Danby, Groton, Lansing, and Ulysses

 Cayuga County
Towns of Ledyard, Genoa, Venice, Scipio, Niles, Sempronius, and Summerhill 

The Collaboration

The Project involves a variety of stakeholders and partners—from private sector to K-12 and higher education to government to workforce agencies to community non-profits—all of which are participating at various stages of development and implementation. Here is a summary of their contributions ranging from the standard to the highly innovative:

Private Sector
Clarity Connect, Inc. is the lead developer of the Project, bringing tothe table engineering, project management, and marketing experience.

Clarity is collaborating with the competitive local exchange carrier Finger Lakes Technology Group (FLTG),whichis installing telephone pole-style “towers” in the public right-of-way where needed to reach households and businesses.  FLTG will also run fiber whererequired for backhaul. FLTG is essential to the project viability and along with Clarity provides a “locally-grown” solution to a fundamental last-mile need.

Black Oak Wind Farm, LLC also serves as a core partner in the Project, and is a business customer as well. Although much of the build out will be supported by New York State (NYS) funding, Black Oak will provide $25k to support broadband expansion for the Town of Enfield, which hosts the firm’s corporate office.

Cayuga and Tompkins Counties
In 2010, before the NYS Broadband Office announced Governor Cuomo’s intent to make available $25 million in grant funding to promote broadband Internet access across the state, Tompkins County formed a Special Committee on Broadband to search for ways to bring high speed service to unserved residents. The 18-member volunteer Committee consisting of technical experts and community and business leaders waschaired by two County Legislators. The Committee did fundamental groundwork in determining who was served and unserved in Tompkins County and in identifying viable cost-effective solutions. The Committee’s work also incorporated extensive community outreach, including seven forums with residents of rural communities, meetings with local and state officials, and media presence. It secured grant funding for an ascertainment study and developed a variety of reports and presentations to build a business case for last-mile connectivity. When the State’s “Connect NY” grant program became a reality for the County, the Committee worked tirelessly to establish the needed political support for the initiative and helped brainstorm implementation ideas.

To contribute to the Project, both Counties provided use of existing Public Safety Communications towers, waiving rent/lease fees. The towers helped meet a key design goal, delivering bandwidth to smaller telephone pole locations.  It also helped to keep the project affordable and demonstrated County commitment to the Project’s goals. The approximate value of the forgone tower rents is estimated at $75K over 5 years. Cayuga County also provided $92K cash toward the Project.

Other Municipalities
A total of 14 towns are involved in the Project: Ulysses, Enfield, Newfield, Danby, Caroline, Groton, Lansing, Genoa, Ledyard, Venice, Scipio, Niles, Sempronius, and Summerhill.

In the early phases, many of these towns helped verify which households did not have high speed service available. This sometimes involved volunteers walking the streets to determine exactly how far cables ran. Many towns also developed informal surveys designed to encourage community interest.  Especially in Cayuga County, during project development, a number of town supervisors formed a brain-trust to talk about implementation ideas and helped to keep motivation high and the project on track.

All towns passed Board resolutions committing themselves to covering the cost of running electric serviceto telephone pole towers and agreeing to waive various zoning and permits fees. With approximately 61 telephone pole towersin the project and an estimated cost of about $2K for electric service installation per pole, that amounts to a direct cash contribution from the towns to the project of over $120K. Waiving of zoning, application and associated fees represents an in-kind contribution of an estimated $5K to $7K per pole and tower (estimate based on previous project fees for towers) or about $380K. The towns have been attentive to outreach, which to date has resulted in over 40% of households in the targeted service areas already pre-signed for service.

Although the “Connect NY” grant award was substantial, it did not satisfy the full funding needs of the Project. Therefore, the scope of the Project had to be modified, which meant that some of the towns included in the original proposal were cut. Community response was quick and decisive. For example, the Town of Ledyard was cut from the grant, but an anonymous donor stepped forward to provide a contribution of $37.5K which the Town of Ledyard matched. The Towns of Summerhill and Sempronius were cut from original project funding, but the town supervisors worked with Clarity to leverage the project and find an additional $100K in outside funding. The Town of Caroline was also cut from the grant, but various external sources were tapped, including local community donations, raising about $150K, including a $15K grant approved by the Tompkins County Legislature.

Community Partners
The Project’s community partners provide solutions to three critical needs: promoting service availability, identifying disadvantaged members of the community who will need financial assistance to purchase access, and delivering digital literacy training. Included in this unique partnership are BOCES, Cornell Cooperative Extension, K-12 schools, local libraries, community colleges, and local Workforce Investment Boards:

Cayuga Onondaga BOCES, the Regional Information Center (RIC) for all the BOCES in this region (Letter of Support dated Sept. 20, 2012 from William S. Speck, District Superintendent of Schools).

K-12 School Systems
Southern Cayuga Central School District(Letter of Support dated Sept. 25, 2012 from Patrick Jensen, Superintendent of Schools).
Ithaca City School District(Letter of Support dated Sept. 21, 2012 from Luvelle Brown, Superintendent of Schools).

Community Colleges
Tompkins Cortland Community College(Letter of Support dated Oct. 1, 2012 from Martha Hubbard, Director, Center for Adult Learning and Training).

Cayuga Community College(Letter of Support dated Sept. 24, 2012, from Carla M. DeShaw, Dean of Community Education and Workforce Development).

Workforce Agencies
Cayuga-Cortland Workforce Investment Boardand Tompkins County Workforce Investment Board (Joint Letter of Support dated Sept. 28, 2012, from Robin Sandwick, Director,
Cayuga-Cortland Workforce Investment Board, and Julia Mattick, Executive Director, Tompkins County Workforce Investment Board).

Cayuga Works Career Center(Letter of Support dated Sept. 27, 2012 from Ann Marie Kubarek, Executive Director).

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County (CCETC) (Letter of Support dated Oct. 1, 2012 from Ken Schlather, Executive Director, identifying the total value of program staff and website developer time commitment at over $11,000).

Tompkins County Public Library (Letter of Support from Susan Currie, Director, Tompkins County Public Library)
Other Organizations
Finger Lakes ReUse (Letter of Support dated September 27, 2012 from Diane Cohen, Executive Director).

Fire Departments (Letter of Support dated Sept. 28, 2012 from Rickey Slagle, President of West Niles Fire Co., service provider to Towns of Niles and Sempronious).

A Model for Other NYS Communities Seeking Broadband

 The first of its kind in New York State, the Project serves as a model for other NYS communities that have a similar need for last-mile broadband deployment. The approach ensures service to areas with demonstrated need; leverages existing infrastructure; emphasizes awareness and adoption; and encourages strong collaboration and community support. Most importantly, the approach is guided by principles that yield these hallmarks of success:

  • An open and transparent process that keeps stakeholders and constituents engaged and informed;
  • A fiscally feasible, sustainable technological foundation that easily accommodates future growth in broadband demand; and
  • A platform for demonstrating community commitment to innovation and quality.


Project Contacts

Lead NYS Grantee
Chuck Bartosch, CEO
Clarity Connect, Inc.
200 Pleasant Grove Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
Ph: 607-275-5002

Tompkins County
David McKenna
Tompkins County Legislator (District 8)
Chair, Tompkins County Broadband Committee (appointed 2014)   
319 Douglas Road
Newfield, NY 14867
Telephone: 607-564-7243

Pat Pryor
Vice Chair, Tompkins County Broadband Committee (appointed 2014)
Former Chair, Tompkins County Broadband Committee (appointed 2010–2013)
150 Scofield Rd.
Freeville, NY 13068

Paula E.F. Younger
Deputy County Administrator
County Compliance Officer

Tompkins County
125 E. Court Street, 3rd Floor
Ithaca, NY 14850


Cayuga County
Keith Batman
Cayuga County Legislator (District 7)
Telephone:  315-294-8070


Related Documents