Posts Tagged ‘Broadband – Wireless’

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wired: Learning And The Internet

Wired Education PresentationWatching The Wild Center live telecast of the Wired Education teacher training day October 25th, I felt excited, inspired, amazed  — and oh, so dumb.

I sat at my computer for five hours mesmerized by internationally respected educational consultant Alan November.  His keynote address and two workshops were presented to almost 200 Adirondack teachers participating in person at The Wild Center and virtually at three remote sites. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Rural Communities Broadband Roundtable Thursday

Broadband_Wired_PkCommunity leaders and elected officials have been invited to attend a Rural Communities Broadband Roundtable at The Wild Center on Thursday, Oct. 24.  It is co-hosted by AdkAction.org, which initiated the event; the New York State Broadband Program Office; the United States Department of Agriculture/Rural Development Agency, which provides extensive funding for broadband services in rural locales; and The Wild Center.

The objective of the event is to assist towns and communities in the North Country to better understand how broadband can revitalize their communities and how they can best pursue universal access to broadband. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

NYS Makes Large Investment in Adirondack Broadband

Broadband_Wired_PkGovernor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that New York State will award $25 million in funding to expand high-speed Internet access in rural upstate and underserved urban areas of New York through the Connect NY Broadband Grant Program, including several projects that will affect the Adirondacks.  This newest round of funding brings the total amount for broadband projects during Governor Cuomo’s administration to more than $56 million, the largest statewide broadband funding commitment in the nation, according to the Governor’s office.

Eighteen broadband projects were selected to receive Connect NY Broadband grants based on the endorsement of the Regional Economic Development Councils and technical scores awarded by a committee who analyzed and ranked projects competing for the $25 million in broadband funding. In December, Governor Cuomo also awarded nearly $6 million in funding, from Round 2 of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative, to four project sponsors who will expand high-speed Internet into the North Country region.
» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dan Crane’s Backcountry Digital Device Guidelines

Wolf Pond lean-to siteThe encroachment of cellphones, the Internet and Wi-Fi into the backcountry was the impetus of my last Adirondack Almanack article. Before long, this encroachment shall transform into the inevitability of an all-out invasion, barring any lethal worldwide epidemic, nuclear winter, asteroid collision or zombie apocalypse. Since it would be imprudent to rely on such unlikely occurrences happening in the near future, guidelines governing the use of these digital gadgets appear sorely needed.

Rules and regulations abound for electronic gadgets in the frontcountry, so why not in the backcountry? Driving while texting or talking on a cellphone is illegal on our roads, despite the flagrant disregard for this law surpassed only by that of the stated speed limits, so why not institute similar policies for the Adirondack trails?
» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dan Crane: Adirondack Information Supertrailway

Toad PondOccasionally escaping technology is essential for maintaining one’s peace of mind, especially as high tech gadgets increasingly invade every facet of modern life. From incessantly checking email, the ever-present Internet surfing temptation and the constant threat of an irritating cellphone ringtone disturbing every moment, it is important to find a refuge before becoming mental roadkill on the information superhighway.

The Adirondack backcountry used to be such a refuge, but it may not remain so for much longer.

Recently, the Washington Post, among others, reported about a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) plan to create a super Wi-Fi network, so powerful it could “penetrate thick concrete walls and travel over hills and around trees.” And presumably, into the interior of the Adirondack backcountry. Worse yet, it would be free for public use.
» Continue Reading.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches:
Telecommuting Today and Tomorrow

Having previously shared a vision for Adirondack telecommuting, my plan this week is to describe the current state of broadband and telecommuting in the park in some detail and then point towards the future, laying out a handful of important issues related to its long-term viability.

That plan has gotten a big boost from the readers of the Almanack.  A number of you wrote in to illustrate the current state of telecommuting far better than I could have, in comments written in response to last to last week’s Dispatch.  They were wonderful, revealing that while telecommuting in the Adirondacks is not commonplace, there is no question that its future is already here, thanks to these pioneer Wild Workers (this label, after the suggestion of a reader, is perfect for the situation, plus it is kind of charming).  Choosing to live in the Adirondacks while working elsewhere is something that is happening right now.  That fact should give a big shot of optimism to those who worry about the economy of the park. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Vision for Adk Telecommuting

Grab a cup of coffee kids, this one is long and important.

Imagine the following scenario.

You run a growing business in New York City, an entrepreneurial company that has an exciting new technology to improve the effectiveness of solar power generation.  You have a design team working on a bet-the-business heat exchanger that uses magnetic materials to be three times as efficient as anything on the market.   But a crisis has developed.  Mere days away from unveiling the first prototype, the project has hit a serious roadblock. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Adk Action Informational Meeting Set for Old Forge

ADK Action will hold an information session and discussion from 5 to 7:30 p.m. this Thursday, July 12 at the Old Forge Library, 220 Crosby Blvd.  ADK Action was founded in the Tri-Lakes area as a non-partisan organization in 2007.  Membership is open to both seasonal and full-time Adirondack residents.

“The issues we tackle are politically neutral, but we believe they are of great importance to the future of the Adirondacks,” said Dave Wolff, the organization’s chair. “Some are economic, such as consistent property assessments, universal access to high-speed broadband, and more shared services among the many government jurisdictions of the Park. Some are environmental, such as water quality and salt pollution. We try to focus our limited resources where we can make a difference and, most importantly, we try to take action and make things happen.” » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 15, 2012

North Country Technology Symposium Seeks Presenters

Information Technology professionals and organizational leaders are invited to share their expertise in I.T. at the North Country Technology Symposium on May 23, 2012 in Potsdam. The organizing committee is accepting proposals for presentations to be offered as part of a multi-track agenda of one hour sessions covering a variety of I.T. topics of interest to organizations in the North Country.

The North Country Technology Symposium is designed to encourage adoption of information technologies in the region’s Business, Healthcare, Government, and Community Services sectors through sharing of experiences, ideas and information by colleagues in the field.

2012 North Country Technology Symposium will offer:

* Several live, interactive instructor-led sessions on the latest I.T. issues including: Social Media, Mobile Devices & Apps, Video, Cloud Computing, Open Source Opps, FREE Web Tools and more.

* IT EXPO – Dozens of commercial provider representatives available to speak with you about the latest I.T. products & services on the market.

* Network with region’s I.T. professionals and access On-Site Technology Consulting Services. Registrants schedule appointments for one-on-one consultations

Visit the Call for Presentations website to submit a proposal before February 27, 2012.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Full Details of Adirondack Economic Development Grants

Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the North Country Regional Council Strategic Plan will be awarded a $40 million bonus to fund economic development, one of four regions sop awarded. The complete North Country regional plan includes 70 projects totaling $103.2 million in state support. A number of additional projects were funded through the Mohawk Valley and Capital District regional councils which could also impact residents of the Adirondack region.

According to a statement released by the Governor’s Office, the North Country Regional Council Strategic Plan is designed as a long-term roadmap “to attract private investment, promote and facilitate connectivity between communities, and create a climate that will allow entrepreneurs to flourish. It put forth ways to achieve its vision by capitalizing on the region’s natural assets, talented labor pool, and entrepreneurial population.”

The projects are expected to focus on high-tech and traditional manufacturing, green energy production, agriculture, tourism, and arts and culture. Included are a number of large grants:

$9.9 million will rehabilitate the Newton Falls Rail Project to rehabilitate, reopening the 46 mile Newton Falls Rail Line. This project will service the paper mill at Newton Falls and the operations at Benson Mines.

$900,000 will support improvements to the Village of Gouverneur water distribution system in support of the Kinney Drugs Distribution warehouse.

$4 million will support the development of community rental housing in the area of Fort Drum.

$3 million will support the construction of the new Clayton Hotel along the St. Lawrence River.

$397,000 will restore the 1924 Strand Theatre to the Strand Performing Arts Center in downtown Plattsburgh.

$2.5 million will support the expansion of Bombardier’s plant in Plattsburgh. The project includes a 57,000 square foot increase of the main plant, a 2,100 square foot expansion at the off-site testing facility, and electrification of an additional half mile of railroad track at the test facility.

$1.8 million will expand C Speed’s manufacturing center in Potsdam.

$1.2 million will support modernization new hiring at Saranac Lake’s Trudeau Institute research campus.

$472,000 will be provided to Frontier Communications to increase Hamilton County broadband access. This project is expected to install fiber optic broadband service to several communities that currently have no existing broadband capacity.

A full list of funded projects is available online [pdf]. Warren, Washington and Saratoga counties can be found in the Capital Region section; Fulton, Herkimer and Oneida counties are in the Mohawk Valley region; Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Lewis and St. Lawrence are in the North Country Council.



Saturday, September 17, 2011

Clarkson University’s 3rd Forever Wired Conference

Clarkson University is now taking registrations at http://www.clarkson.edu/adk for the third annual Forever Wired Conference on Tuesday, October 4, in Potsdam.

The conference will offer a variety of sessions geared toward assisting small business owners and teleworkers in rural communities. Attendees will have the opportunity to discuss responsible and sustainable economic growth in the Adirondack region, and address the resources available to assist entrepreneurs in overcoming challenges.

These sessions will offer workshops on:

- Telecommuting Tips
- Overcoming Rural Entrepreneurship Challenges
- Micro-financing
- Government, Industry and Higher Education Collaboration
- Doing Business Internationally

Professionals and organizations are invited to set up promotional displays at the conference to connect with other entrepreneurs who may be seeking their services. Free one-on-one consultations with experts from Clarkson University’s Shipley Center for Innovation and Reh Center for Entrepreneurship will also be available upon request, as well as networking with rural sector experts from around the east coast, who are helping with the sessions.

“The Forever Wired schedule is designed to bring a wide cross section of regional stakeholders together,” said conference chair Kelly O. Chezum, vice president for external relations at Clarkson. “We will cover professional development, networking and information sessions for working-wired entrepreneurs, mobile workers, corporate telecommuters and people interested in green tech commerce.”

Last year’s conference drew more than 250 participants from across New York State and included many seasonal residents of the Adirondack Park, as well.

The conference is a central component of the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, which is championed by a team of regional leaders and energized professionals dedicated toward creation of a sustainable economy in the greater Adirondack North Country. Through their activities, the Adirondack Initiative encourages telework, green-tech commerce and entrepreneurship from home offices and businesses with minimal impact on the natural environment.

“We must advance economic opportunities that will attract and retain our young people and bring meaningful employment into to the region,” said Clarkson President Tony Collins. “The Adirondack Initiative balances the environmental needs of our region, and is aimed at preserving the unique character of our Adirondack and North Country communities, which we share with recreational enthusiasts, tourists and wildlife.”

Clarkson University is expanding support services for teleworkers and entrepreneurs in the area. The Adirondack Business Center hosted by the Clarkson Entrepreneurship Center in Saranac Lake, N.Y. is equipped with wireless Internet, a conference room, quiet workspace, and will provide other amenities to the public. The built-in classroom holds sessions such as “My Small Business 101″ to advance practical business skills of local entrepreneurs.

For more information on the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, or to register for the Forever Wired Conference, go online, e-mail foreverwired@clarkson.edu or call 315-268-4483.



Monday, May 16, 2011

Potential Adirondack Wireless Locations Sought

Adirondack towns and villages have a unique opportunity to be included in a project that seeks to improve wireless cell and broadband availability in the Adirondack Park.

The goal of the Wireless Clearinghouse project is to create an inventory of existing structures in Adirondack Park towns that are suitable for housing a wireless antenna. The database will be a resource for private wireless companies, with the goal of encouraging them to expand wireless telecommunications across the region, a key to economic development. The inventory produced is expected to be a significant planning asset available through a secure website and featuring a GIS database with maps and images.

Right now, municipal officials are being asked to respond to an email sent by the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) that contains instructions for listing their community’s structures in the online inventory. All communities who provide feedback by May 31 will be publicly acknowledged when the final results of the project are published and will be entered in a drawing to win a free customized online mapping application.

Fountains Spatial Inc., a GIS consulting firm based in Schenectady, has been contracted by SUNY Plattsburgh and ANCA with project methodology, data collection, and development of an interactive web-map application to access the data collected in the project.

The data being collected this month will identify existing tall structures within Adirondack Park municipalities, such as churches, water towers, and other tall structures. To start, Fountains Spatial combed tax parcel data for information on property class codes such as churches, public services and government structures that could be considered suitable sites for a telecommunications antenna.

The project is due to be completed this summer. In the process, one of the goals is to inform community leaders of the opportunities provided by these technologies.

“DEC, SUNY Plattsburgh, Fountains Spatial and ANCA hope that the Wireless Clearinghouse database will encourage wireless carriers to provide service in additional Park communities. People today want to stay connected 24/7 using their mobile device or computer, and better wireless service will support municipal services, and benefit year round and seasonal residents, and visitors may stay longer,” said Howard Lowe, project manager.



Saturday, January 8, 2011

APA Meets Thursday: Warrensburg, Wells, Moriah, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, January 13 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The January meeting is one day only. Topics will include a variance for a sign at a new car dealership in Warrensburg, a shoreline structure setback and cutting variances for a proposed marina in Moriah, an enforcement action against an alleged wetland subdivision and substandard-sized lot subdivision in Wells, a presentation on Keene broadband project, military airspace and military aircraft use over the Adirondack Park, and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft policy for issuing Temporary Revocable Permits for State Lands and Conservation Easements.

The meeting will be webcast live online (choose Webcasting from the contents list). Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website. The full agenda follows:

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will discuss current activities.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider two variance projects; a request for a variance from the Q-3 sign standards for placement of new car dealership sign in the Town of Warrensburg, Warren County and shoreline structure setback and shoreline cutting variance variances for a proposed marina in the Town of Moriah, Essex County.

At 10:30, the Enforcement Committee will convene for an enforcement case involving alleged wetland subdivision and substandard-sized lot subdivision violations on private property in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County.

At 11:00, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation on the Town of Keene’s town-wide broadband project. Dave Mason and Jim Herman, project co-directors, will explain the project history, how it unfolded and detail project accomplishments.

At 1:00, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will be briefed on Military Airspace and Military Aircraft use over the Adirondack Park. Lt. Col. Fred Tomasselli, NY Air National Guard’s Airspace Manager at Fort Drum, will overview military airspace use. Commander Charles Dorsey, NY Air National Guard 174th Fighter Wing Vice-Commander at Fort Hancock, will detail the expected deployment of the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft for military training exercises over the Adirondack Park.

At 2:15, the State Land Committee will be updated by, Forest Preserve Management Bureau Chief Peter Frank, on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s draft policy for issuing Temporary Revocable Permits for State Lands and Conservation Easements. The draft policy proposes four types of revocable permits: Expedited, Routine, Non-Routine and Research.

At 3:00, the Park Ecology Committee will convene for a presentation from the Agency’s, Natural Resource Analysis Supervisor Daniel Spada, on his recent trip to China. The focus of the trip was the ongoing China Protected Areas Leadership Alliance Project. Mr. Spada will overview this project and describe his experiences with the various National Nature Reserve managers he visited with in Yunnan Province, China.

At 3:45, the Full Agency will convene will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

The February Agency is scheduled for February 10-11, 2011

March Agency Meeting: March 17-18 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.



Saturday, August 7, 2010

Second Annual Forever Wired Conference Set

Clarkson University is now taking registrations at for the second annual Forever Wired Conference on Tuesday, September 7, in Potsdam. Conference organizers intend to grow telework and economic opportunities in the greater Adirondack Park and demonstrate how technology and services can help local businesses and individuals in predominantly rural regions.

Last year’s conference drew more than 260 participants from across New York State and included many seasonal residents of the Park as well. Adirondack Almanack founder John Warren covered the event for the Almanack.

This year sessions include a panel of independent broadband technology experts who will answer questions about existing and emerging broadband alternatives; representatives from brick and mortar businesses adopting new Internet-based business strategies, artisans using emerging online business strategies to expand their outreach; and independent entrepreneurs adopting broadband as their primary interface point with customers.

The conference is a central component of the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, which is championed by a team of regional leaders and energized professionals dedicated toward creation of a sustainable economy in the greater Adirondacks. Through their activities, the Adirondack Initiative encourages telework, green-tech commerce and entrepreneurship from home offices and businesses with minimal impact on the natural environment.

Clarkson University is expanding support services for teleworkers and entrepreneurs in the area. Renovations are underway now for the Adirondack Business Center hosted by the Clarkson Entrepreneurship Center in Saranac Lake, N.Y. The center will be equipped with wireless Internet, a conference room, quiet workspace, and will provide other
amenities to the public. The built-in classroom will hold sessions such as “My Small Business 101″ to advance practical business skills of local entrepreneurs.

For more information on the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, or to
register for the Forever Wired Conference, go to http://www.clarkson.edu/adk, e-mail foreverwired@clarkson.edu or call
315-268-4483.



Thursday, June 10, 2010

Update: Rural Broadband and the Adirondacks

Last year, Clarkson University launched its Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, known colloquially as Forever Wired. I’ve been following this with interest partly because it has the potential to change the economic and cultural dynamics of the Adirondack Park and partly because it’s an intriguing and ambitious way to more closely link my alma mater to the region.

The Almanack has offered some good coverage of the initiative, as well as pointing out the difficulty of finding concrete data related to broadband usage and access inside the Blue Line.

With the Park threatened by expected deep cuts to the public sector workforce on which the region’s economy is heavily dependent, expanded broadband access will become even more critical to boosting the region’s private sector.

In this context, it seems fortuitous that the Federal Communications Commission recently launched and has heavily promoted its National Broadband Plan.

The FCC views universal broadband access as critical “to advance national purposes such as education, health care, and energy efficiency.”

The plan “recommends that the FCC comprehensively reform both contributions to and disbursements from the Universal Service Fund to support universal access to broadband service, including through creation of the Connect America Fund.”

The Commission has recently put particular focus on increasing broadband access in rural areas. A 2009 FCC report described broadband as “the interstate highway of the 21st century for small towns and rural communities, the vital connection to the broader nation and, increasingly, the global economy.” The 2009 ‘Stimulus Package’ provided some $7.2 billion for broadband projects.

As with cell phone and cable television coverage, broadband access faces particular challenges in sparsely populated, often isolated rural areas. But it will be interesting to see if the FCC’s plan and Forever Wired can help expand this infrastructure many see as critical to expanding economic opportunities in the Adirondacks.



Thursday, September 10, 2009

Forever Wired: Some Thoughts On Adirondack Wired Work

Having taken some time to digest everything that happened at Clarkson University’s Forever Wired conference this week, I thought I’d try to wrap up the experience (coverage by Almanack contributor Mary Thill and me here) with some thoughts about what’s happening, where we’re heading, and where we should be headed. It seems to me that several strands are developing around the issue of a wired workforce in the Adirondacks.

The first is the technological build-out of broadband in the Adirondack region. Mary covered what we know is happening and has happened here, but there is still a lot to be learned. The big providers hold their plans close to the vest, but as Mary noted recent developments by CBN Connect, a nonprofit affiliated with SUNY Plattsburgh, and the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) have gotten us off to a good start, and there are hopes for a small piece of the $7.2 billion federal stimulus funds for broadband to extend coverage into the park. There is still, however, the looming question of how much of the park has broadband now. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Congresswoman Kirstin Gillibrand, and Clarkson President Tony Collins have all said that 70 percent of the park lacks broadband, but without public data (and real baseline for what should really be called broadband), we just don’t know. The bottom line is that on the technology build-out front, we’re moving forward, albeit hopefully. Clarkson president Tony Collins said the next step is a retreat September 22 at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake for an infrastructure working panel, an offshoot of the Forever Wired gathering.

A second big piece coming into play was highlighted at the Forever Wired conference. Much of the energy there is being put into convincing seasonal residents to move themselves and their jobs to the Adirondacks and work from home. Proponents of this plan point to the recent study by the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages that indicated declining school enrollments and an aging park population. The general sense is that bringing new residents into the park will improve both situations and that selling the Adirondack wired lifestyle will help turn around our sluggish local economies. A plus side to the wired-permanent-residents approach is that it could lower the number of individuals with mailing addresses outside the park, those who currently own about half of the total residential property value and that may increase local property values and grow local property tax revenue. It’s felt that more full-time residents will also mean more jobs, but it might also mean fewer jobs for our current crop of young residents as new full-timers with technology skills take jobs. There is also the affordable housing squeeze, and then of course, more development sprawl caused by wiring the backcountry and lakeshores.

The final piece I want to mention has been generally left out of the equation—employing current local residents in existing wired work opportunities. If we’re going to have a plan for wired work, it would be helpful to know how many workers in the park might be eligible to move toward telecommuting. Human resources departments, bookkeeping and accounting, marketing, secretarial, media, political boards and committees, and no doubt other positions could possibly be moved to the home office. A representative of IBM reported that home-based employees save the company $100 million a year in real estate costs alone. Increased productivity (believe it or not), reduced costs of childcare, time and money saved on commuting (one of the park’s largest uses of energy) are all benefits of moving Adirondack workers toward wired work from home. Could recent job cuts in Warren County for instance, have been avoided if twenty or thirty percent of the county’s workforce worked from home? Twenty or thirty percent of energy costs? Building costs? Snowplowing? The list goes on. Could the folks who recently lost jobs at the county’s cooperative extension office have kept them if they closed down the office and everyone worked from home? The bottom line here is we don’t know, and the focus on technology build-out, future call center workers, and converted full time residents is leaving out the direct and fairly immediate savings current residents might reap from transitioning existing jobs to wired work now.

Some folks at the Forever Wired conference, folks like Elmer Gates — a Blue Mountain Lake native, engineer-turned-CEO-turned banker and a force in starting the Adirondack North Country Initiative for Wired Work—understand that getting broadband infrastructure here is just one step. Gates told the Almanack that people need training for technical support or call-center jobs. He was also quick to point to support offered by Clarkson University’s Shipley Center for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, where existing start-ups and small businesses can learn to succeed in the new business environment through free consultations.

Gates says he got behind the Wired Work Initiative because he “just got tired of everybody having given up” on finding good jobs in the Adirondacks. “That’s a defeatist attitude and we are going to change it,” he said, adding that he’s not satisfied with the track record of regional economic development agencies and plans to keep the Wired Workforce Initiative a private, volunteer effort.

I like the sound of that. Adirondackers need training for new wired jobs that can keep young people employed in sustainable, environmentally sound ways. But employers (public and private) need training too. They need to learn the benefits of wired work to their bottom line and to their workers’ (and taxpayers) wallets.

Local residents need a to path to the wired work future—who will lead the way?



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two Small Steps in Adirondack Wired Work Infrastructure

This summer two Adirondackers embarked on pioneering ventures in park connectivity and shared their stories today at a Forever Wired panel on infrastructure development.

In Paul Smiths, Mark Dzwonczyk’s family spends six weeks of every summer at his wife’s family’s camp on the St. Regis Lakes. As president and COO of a Web conference call company, Dzwonczyk has had to return to work in California while his family stayed here. A few years ago he decided to figure out how to work from the Adirondacks so he could stay too. Verizon customer service told him they’d send somebody out to hook up DSL, but the local linemen knew better: the phone cable runs two miles under the water so it’d be daunting and prohibitively expensive to set up all the relays needed to connect the camp that way.

Dzwonczyk tried a satellite connection. Dinner guests due at 6 started showing up at 4:30 with their laptops, he says, and boats would float offshore at night as neighbors tried to tap into the signal.

Finally Dzwonczyk decided to establish a wireless network for 25 of the 50 or so seasonal camps on the St. Regis Lakes. The businesspeople were the ones most enthusiastic about it, he says, thinking they could stay in touch with work, but it turns out that they use only about 5 percent of the bandwidth. Families—especially those with teenage kids—are by far the biggest users.

“The good news is I was here seven weeks this summer, still running my company in Silicon Valley,” Dzwonczyk says. He paid to establish the wireless network “as sort of a friends and family” gesture (each participating camp plays a flat rate usage fee), he says, but he is looking into expanding it as a business venture.

Stephen Svoboda, executive director of the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake says the facility opened a business center July 4 to provide Internet access as well as office conveniences such as printing, copying and teleconferencing. Residents of Blue Mountain Lake come in to check e-mail and to shop online, Svoboda says, and hotel guests and other visitors will come in for an hour or two to catch up on work while their families are canoeing “or doing something fun.” [UPDATE: Clarkson University is applying for stimulus funding to host eight to ten similar centers with partners around the Adirondacks. The ALCA business center is something of a pilot project.]

Svoboda recently took the arts center job after working as a playwright and theater arts professor at the University of Miami. He was concerned that a move to the north woods might limit his writing work. He has found that through the Internet he is able to stay active in the larger theater world. “I just finished having a show in Soeul, South Korea, and I never left the Adirondacks to do that show . . . while working in Blue Mountain and living in Tupper Lake,” Svoboda says.

There was a lot of interest in an exchange at the end of the panel, during a question and answer session. David Malone, a corporate sales manager from Verizon, was asked to quantify just how much of the Adirondack Park the company covers. After explaining that Verizon has been putting a lot of attention and investment into erecting 13 cell towers on I-87 (at $550,000 per), and after being asked the question again, he owned that he has no statistics on how much of the Adirondacks Verizon covers. There will be “more buildout” soon in the Malone and Plattsburgh regions, he says, and in Paul Smiths and Keene.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Forever Wired: Small Adirondack Business 101

Here at the Forever Wired Conference at Clarkson University there are a lot of folks in suits and sporting bluetooth. Aside from some of the workers building what Clarkson President Tony Collins called “our stimulus project”—a new student center—there are few beards, and fewer bluejeans than an Adirondacker would normally like to encounter. Is it a mark of a changing local economy?

I just got out of a session with about 60 attendees entitled “My Adirondack Business 101″ led by Marc Compeau, Director of Innovation & Entrepreneurship programs here at the university. Compeau’s presentation is designed to be given over four weeks but he covered the basics in about 45 minutes.

Compeau noted that even though the Adirondack region has limited access to the Internet, limited marketing channels, and mostly seasonal brick and mortar businesses, the Big Three of building a sustainable business are still important: building market share, maintaining growth / sustainability, and accessing capital.

Compeau stressed the importance of laying out a plan, marketing (even if you don’t have the Internet at home, your customer does), good people management (through building a workplace culture) and managing change.

I think the big lesson at the session was that just because we are not as wired as the rest of the state (or country, or developing world!) doesn’t mean that we should forget about the wired audience. According to Compeau, 78 percent of homes in the Untied States have a PC and 79 percent of adults use the internet.

www.helpmysmallbusinesstoday.com is Clarkson’s portal for local business people to get free help from the university to help sustainably grow their enterprises.

I’ll post again later today.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Forever Wired: Conference Kickoff

Blogging live from the Forever Wired Conference at Clarkson University, where a strong turnout of 250 telecommuters, mobile workers, educators and advocates for the region’s economy and technology have gathered to figure out how to use the Internet to develop North Country businesses.

State comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli kicked the conference off with a keynote address on the In-State Private Equity Investment Program. His message in brief: the state is acting as venture capitalist, investing in innovative businesses and new technologies.

DiNapoli says the goals of the program are to diversify the state pension fund portfolio and provide returns to the one million people who depend on it; the parallel objectives are to encourage economic growth in New York and create jobs. He credited state investments with creating 2,700 jobs in the state since the program began in 2007, and he says returns have been strong. So far the fund has invested $1 billion, financing 27 companies with an average return of 30 percent. DiNapoli called it a “small success story” in an otherwise stressed state economy and budget. Seventeen investment managers decide which companies to entrust with the pension fund’s money, and about $500 million is available for investment right now.

In the North Country, the the Common Retirement Fund (CRF) invested $2.5 million in ZeroPoint Clean Tech, based in Potsdam, a renewable energy company providing biomass-to-energy and water treatment technologies; $22.5 billion in Navilyst Medical’s acquisition of Boston Scientific Corporation’s catheter manufacturing business, much of it based in Glens Falls; and $6.9 million in Climax Manufacturing Company, of Lowville, manufacturers of folding cartons and recycled paperboards.

Most of the investments around the state similarly went to larger businesses that employ a lot of people, but DiNapoli says the fund is open to entrepreneurial ideas and that he realizes that the economy has made it tough lately for start-ups to access private capital.

“If you are prepared to make a commitment to New York and can make a compelling case for our investment, we’ll make a commitment to you and your business,” the comptroller said. “My message is a simple one: as an investor I am betting on New York.”

John Warren is attending a session on “What are the basic business concepts that will lead to my success” and says he’ll file some thoughts later this afternoon.



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Status of Broadband in the Adirondack Park

If you live in one of the larger Adirondack communities like Old Forge or Lake Placid, chances are you can hook in to some form of high-speed Internet, broadly called broadband. If you live in a small-to-middling hamlet like Cranberry Lake—or if you live in between, on a lakeshore or in the woods—you might be among the nine percent of Americans still using slow, shaky dial-up, or one of a handful using expensive and unreliable satellite, or you just don’t bother.

There are no solid numbers on how many Adirondack Park residents have the option of high-speed Internet. Even local officials often don’t know who can wire to what and where in their towns. (These county maps provide the most complete picture, but an official with the state Office for Technology cautions that the Adirondack data are incomplete.)

Most Adirondack broadband users tie in via DSL (digitally enhanced phone line) or cable modem. But a handful of places like Keene have isolated ganglia of fiber-optic cable, the fastest option by far. Fiber optic is called “future proof”: odds are against a better technology replacing it. The hairlike glass strands offer more bandwidth than we’ll ever need, and they’re not far away, literally. The Adirondack Park is surrounded on the east, south and west by major fiber optic cables. They are buried along the Northway (I-87) and the Thruway (I-90), and they run roughly parallel to I-81 from Syracuse to the top of the state.

The reason we’re not hooked in to these trunk lines is that it’s just not profitable enough for Verizon and other private Internet service providers to lay miles and miles of secondary wire to the relatively few, dispersed customers that populate the Adirondacks. That’s why North Country economic- and technology-development organizations are applying for some of the $7.2 billion in federal stimulus plan funds earmarked to bring broadband to rural and low-income areas.

In the northeastern Adirondacks, CBN Connect, a nonprofit affiliated with SUNY Plattsburgh, is seeking $22 million in government money in hopes of starting work this year stringing 420 miles of fiber across Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties. The open-access line would run from the Canadian border to Ticonderoga and from Lake Champlain to Tupper Lake. CBN is also designing a network and applying for permits to bring fiber to Hamilton, Warren and Washington Counties.

West of the park, the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) has already built a model of rural Internet-ification, having strung 750 miles of open-access fiber by 2003. However, the line penetrates the Adirondack Park only as far as Newton Falls, where a paper mill needed high-speed to stay in touch with its Canadian owner. DANC officials say they would also like to apply for stimulus funds to expand broadband service in the western park.

These government-funded lines would not be the ones that attach to your house; these are more like main roads. It will still be up to private Internet service providers to step in and use these fiber backbones to offer service to homes and businesses—and connection fees will presumably drop since the really costly part has been subsidized and there will be competition among providers. What connects your house won’t necessarily be fiber, either, though the technology is well-adapted for towns like Keene where houses can be miles apart and mountains block airwaves. A lot of population centers will stick with cable or DSL, though linked to faster, fatter networks. Some will supplement with wireless; officials in Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Cranberry Lake, for example, are looking at sending signals from towers to reach far-flung residents and shoreowners at minimal cost.

They are hoping that seasonal homeowners and vacationers will stay longer and spend more money here if they can work lakeside from an Adirondack chair. This is where the Why comes in—the economic and other rationales for wiring the park—and that is a subject for another post.

Map of DANC’s fiber-optic Open Access Telecom Network (OATN), west of the Adirondack Park. Maps of the Northway and Thruway fiber-optic lines are not available because they are considered “critical state infrastructure.”



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