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Common Council tables new fiber franchise agreement

Questions about fees were raised by the council and companies
Credit: Nate Benson

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Buffalo Common Council Legislation Committee has tabled a new telecommunications franchise agreement that would open the city up to multiple cable and internet providers.

The council tabled the agreement after Councilman Fontana and a consultant for a company called Crosslake Fibre raised questions about the fee structure the template proposed.

Acting Commissioner for the Department of Public Works Michael Finn said the city-based pricing structure on other cities similar to the size of Buffalo - but wouldn’t specify which cities.

The city has proposed a fee of $6,000 for the first 12,000 feet of fiber installed and $1 per foot after that.

“I would like to see this approved at the next council meeting,” Finn told the committee.

Finn went on to pledge that his department would provide the council any additional information they need in their decision-making process.

2 On Your Side submitted in a Freedom Of Information Law request for the information, that the department  was legally bound to provide by November 12.The FOIL request remains unfilled. 

“This is a big deal,” said Common Council President Darius Pridgen in support of tabling the agreement. “Other companies now have some concern, I think we  need to learn the concerns, make sure we check our numbers, to make sure they’re correct and don’t overburden.”

The Department of Public Works submitted a new franchise agreement template last Tuesday after WGRZ spent four months researching the status of broadband in Buffalo.

 2 On Your Side also reported that companies were growing frustrated that the city wasn’t responsive to communications regarding proposed fiber projects. Those concerns were further confirmed by public comment from a consultant for Crosslake Fibre.

“The company had to bypass Buffalo, it’s originally planned US hub, because it has been unable to secure an agreement with the city,” said Sean Meegan from Pioneer Consulting, representing Crosslake Fibre. “Crosslake formally applied for an application in September of 2018. However, we didn't receive any paperwork from the city until May 10, 2019.”

Council President Pridgen said he didn’t believe the council would be ready to vote on the measure by the next meeting. He also asked Finn if the companies approaching the city are looking to build networks for residential usage.

The companies have not indicated that they're looking to get into residential usage, yet.

According to Finn, the new franchise agreement would not force a provider to build out a network to the whole city, as was the case in previous franchise agreements.

The next Buffalo Common Council meeting is December 10 at 2 p.m. 

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