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Study set to address internet access in Erie County

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Erie County took another step in its push into broadband yesterday, with the County Legislature agreeing to spend $63,000 toward a study on how to make sure all of the county has web access available.

In an age when some people appear to sleep with their web devices, much of the county has no broadband access. In some areas, the wi-fi from branches of the public library is the only way to gain access.

County Legislator Patrick Burke has been making a big push to expand access saying the present situation hurts economic development and education.

"It's maybe the one issue that everyone actually agrees on, that we need better internet service across the board, but especially in this area," Burke said.  He says the new study is to find out where there is access and where there isn't and the options to provide service.

"We have a sort of unique setting where we're so close to Canada, there are certain business development opportunities and economic development opportunities that are not being realized because we don't have the capacity of internet use and connectivity here," Burke said.

Legislators approved the plan unanimously, backed by County Executive Poloncarz. Albany is going to be asked to help pay for the complete study which Burke says might be $150,000 He says one goal of the study is to check on reports there are a lot of unused web lines around the county which might be turned on for service.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.