Cortland officials enter agreement for fiber optic internet installation

Scott Steve, City of Cortland mayor. (Photo provided by Kevin L. Smith of The Cortland Voice).

The Cortland Common Council unanimously approved authorization for officials to enter an agreement for fiber optic internet installation within city limits at Tuesday’s meeting.

The agreement, which is with fiber optic telecommunications company Empire Access, will provide free internet to city-owned properties and buildings in exchange for fiber optic cable attachment access and easement rights through “obsolete fire alarm locations.”

Empire Access currently serves 35,000 residential and business customers for 18 counties between New York and Pennsylvania.

According to documents, the city has had a non-operational fire alarm network, which allows fiber optic cable to run through to “provide fiber optic telecommunications.”

Docs also stated that the agreement “shall not obligate the (City of Cortland) financially.” In fact, Cortland mayor Scott Steve estimated $130,000 annual savings for the city.

“Financially, it’s a win-win (situation),” Steve said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Steve said Empire Access’s installation project could begin as early as this year. The goal, the mayor added, is for Empire Access to provide internet access to the rest of the city in 2025.

“It will be great for everybody in the long term,” Steve said, noting that WiFi could soon be available in downtown Cortland, parks and more.

Steve said that long-term plans within the agreement will soon give city residents an option for broadband internet, noting the issues with high rates. The mayor mentioned that Empire Access is looking to provide a rate of $50-per month for internet service in the area.

With various projects through the city, Steve said the deal with Empire Access is separate from the ongoing Downtown Revitalization Initiative project.