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Buffalo Common Council approves new fiber-optic agreement

Better broadband for Buffalo could now be a reality.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After a brief debate, the Buffalo Common Council has approved a new fiber-optic franchise agreement. This allows for non-exclusive franchise agreements to be made between the City of Buffalo and service providers. 

The unanimous vote was the last big piece of legislation for outgoing councilman Rich Fontana from the Lovejoy District. 

"You'll see a lot of competition hit the market pretty soon, and it will no longer be a one trick pony town," said Fontana.

It's a move expected to bring more internet options to more people. 

"Internet is not a luxury, it's a necessity. So, to have this competition is extremely important to the residents of the City of Buffalo, so that we can be competitive, so they can again take dollars out of internet and cable, and put it in food and medicine," said University District Councilmember Rasheed Wyatt.

With Spectrum being the only high speed internet option for most people in Buffalo, councilmembers say this franchise agreement will encourage more companies to do business in the city.

The debate centered around the fees Buffalo would charge service providers. As we reported in the past, the initial fee was $6,000 for the first 12,000 feet of fiber installed in the right of way. After hearing concerns the council agreed that a flat $.50 per foot rate was more appealing to businesses. 

According to sources that spoke to 2 On Your Side, this $.50/ft rate is more in line with other municipalities similar size to Buffalo. 

"We did not have a template of what these carriers would have to pay, of how much, what other responsibilities they had, and some of what we already did have in place at times kind of choked the industry," explained Council President Darius Pridgen after Monday's vote.

As it stands right now, the first franchise agreement that would be approved under this template is the forthcoming Greenlight Networks project. People familiar with the project tell 2 On Your Side that Greenlight will be aiming to receive project approval sometime in late January or early February in order to begin rolling out their network at the end of 2020. 

"The first question that they were asked was what about some of the more struggling neighborhoods? And their response was those are the neighborhoods at times that are most interested because they have density. Where you have suburban areas and more affluent areas that don't have the density. So, that was important," said Pridgen.

2 On Your Side originally started asking city officials questions about the status of broadband in the city of Buffalo back in August and now it seems the Queen City could see relief in the broadband department. 

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