JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — If Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist has his way, Jamestown will be the first city in the Empire State to own and operate a municipal broadband system.
The roadmap to that end goal became a little clearer at today's "state of the city" address by Sundquist.
"I'm prepared to create an ad hoc broadband committee consisting of council members BPU board members and community members to go over the plan, speak with experts and help determine the city's path forward on a potential municipal broadband system," Mayor Sundquist said in his address.
Broadband has been a focus for Sundquist since he initially ran for mayor in 2019. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, Jamestown is closer than ever to making a municipal broadband system a reality.
"This network will address the digital divide help in our role of attracting those doing remote work, and will ensure access to help telehealth and educational resources for every resident of Jamestown," Mayor Sundquist said.
Right now, Charter (Spectrum) is the only high-speed internet provider in Jamestown.
"This would make Jamestown a leader in New York state where currently no municipal broadband network exists," Mayor Sundquist said in the address.
While New York is not one of the 18 states that restrict municipal broadband systems, the Empire State is nowhere near leading in the area of promoting municipal broadband systems. Former Governor Andrew Cuomo pocket vetoed many attempts by the legislature to study the feasibility of local governments exploring municipal broadband projects.
Governor Hochul's stance on municipal systems is a bit more progressive than her predecessor. During Governor Hochul's state of the state address in early January, she laid out the framework for local governments to apply for broadband-related grants so long as they were open and accessible systems.
Details about how much money is available for local governments have not been made available.
As for Jamestown, no timetable for when the feasibility study will be complete, nor if and when the committee Mayor Sundquist plans to organize, has been made public.
"I'm excited for our path ahead. And we will continue to pursue funding to make this network a reality," Mayor Sundquist said.