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Taghkanic HotSpot...and more

By Arthur McGuire, Chair, Taghkanic Broadband Committee.

March 30, 2020

No, we are not getting a new nightclub. But Gtel is planning a broadband hotspot at Town Hall. This is a place where people can sit in their cars at the Town Hall and access broadband on their portable devices for free. It not dissimilar from the old Internet Cafes or the current cafes where, until recently, customers logged on to the Wi-Fi to work. The company expects the installation to be completed by Tuesday, April 7th. It has received delivery of the necessary equipment and the construction supervisor has already surveyed the site.

Gtel recognizes that the broadband installation is moving steadily but slowly. And, with the COVID-19 crisis, more people are staying at home with their need for fast Internet greater than ever. People need it for communication, study, work-from-home, entertainment and a myriad of other purposes. This new hotspot will enable those who do not yet have fast Internet at home to work at their cars at the Town Hall. It will remain in place as long as Gtel sees the need continuing and is a big step in the right direction.

In the meantime, Gtel is continuing its buildout. All of its line crews are now working in Taghkanic. They have finished hanging the fiber on Taghkanic Churchtown Road from County Route 10 to the Claverack border. Work continues with splicing on County Route 27 and splicing/testing on County Route 10. The first week of April sees work focused on Post Hill Road from County Route 10 to County Route 27. Gtel expects all Phase 2 infrastructure work to be completed in June with Phase 3 completed a couple of months later.

Most importantly, home installations also continue but in a different way. With the Coronavirus, the technicians cannot enter the homes. Instead they deliver a self-install kit so that the residents can set it up themselves. It includes clear instructions with pictures of how to set up the hardware. Think more like the Blue Apron cooking system than IKEA furniture assembly. Once the hardware has been installed, the customer can get further necessary setup help over the phone. In its first 20 installations, Gtel found that 17 could successfully manage the system. In the last week of March, the company was able to accomplish 23 of these self-installs. Gtel can now install customers at a rate of about 20 per week.

But installation is not just around the corner. For example, although Taghkanic Churchtown Road now has broadband on the poles, one resident was told not to expect home installation there until June. At 20 installations per week, it will take time.

We are encouraged that progress is still being made with broadband in Taghkanic. Well over 100 of our homes now have fiber from Gtel, with a like number receiving similar service from Mid-Hudson and Consolidated. Despite Coronavirus, lines are being attached to poles and self-installs are taking place. And we will soon have our broadband hotspot at Town Hall. Our cyberlives are improving -- if too-slowly for many, at least surely.

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