The Oneida Nation and Northland Communications worked together to extend a fiber optics network into areas of Central New York that did not have accessibility to this state-of-the-art technology infrastructure.

Businesses in parts of western Oneida County and Madison County soon will be getting better broadband Internet.

The Oneida Indian Nation is working with Northland Communications to build a fiber optic network that includes 17 Nation-owned locations.

The initiative is not part of the state’s plan to expand broadband to rural areas by 2019. The Nation undertook the project on its own earlier this year in an effort to enhance the experience of its patrons.

The locations include not only the Nation’s Turning Stone Resort Casino, but also its many SavOn gas station convenience stores and its Yellow Brick Road Casino in Chittenango. The network also will pass through many non-Nation owned areas, and businesses along the routes will be able to tap into it if they wish.

Much of the area is not served with high-speed internet; in areas where there already is service, the new network will offer competition and possibly bring down prices, Northland Communications President Jim McCarthy said.

“By making this investment in fiber optic technology, we’re creating the ultimate experience for our guests, establishing opportunities for other local businesses and residents, and we’re able to work with a local company to do it,” Oneida Nation CEO Ray Halbritter said.

Meanwhile, the state is continuing its push to bring high-speed broadband service to Upstate’s sparsely populated regions.

Northland Communications President Jim McCarthy said the state has put out a request for information to companies such as his to learn what challenges they face in extending service.

Responses are due Oct. 31, he said. Once the state has had the opportunity to review them, a formal request for proposals will go out, he said.

A spokesman for the state’s Broadband Program Office could not be reached.

McCarthy said the major challenge to extending his network is cost.

“It’s expensive,” he said, explaining that it costs $35,000 per mile to build such a network.

“With residential subscribers for broadband, the revenue opportunity isn’t great, so it’s hard to make that business case work.”

Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan, passed in his 2015-16 budget in April, $500 million of a more than $5 billion settlement with financial institutions will be used to help pay for the expansion.

Internet providers are being offered matching funds if they opt to expand into areas with no service, or improve service in places that already have it. Providers often are reluctant to extend service into sparsely populated areas because there might not be enough customers to recoup costs.

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