Project plan

Erie County Legislators Respond to $36M ErieNET Broadband Project Plan

ErieNET will be a 400-mile open access network that will connect more than 150 anchor institutions in Erie County aimed at helping bridge the digital divide.

ERIE COUNTY, NY — ErieNET was an ambitious plan for County Executive Mark Poloncarz. The one who almost became a financial victim of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, thanks to funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, ErieNET is alive again and even has a business plan.

The county released its business plan, which you can read below, which sets out the framework for the $38 million project.

The 400-mile project will create a ring around Erie County and connect anchor institutions in the city of Buffalo, but more importantly in rural areas that are significantly underserved.

The business plan, developed by ECC Technologies (not affiliated with SUNY Erie) identified two primary goals for ErieNET:

  • Increase availability of high-speed broadband Internet to serve more Erie County residents
  • Increase local broadband competition for residential and business users.

Multiple sources told 2 On Your Side that Charter, which operates as Spectrum, has no interest in connecting to ErieNET fiber lines and connecting the service to homes.

The business plan highlights and leverages additional carriers to lease space on the ErieNET mid-mile to connect these underserved communities.

ErieNET will not connect directly to residences and the county will not enter the residential ISP business.

The plan specifies that there will be negative profits for at least five years. These losses, however, will be distributed in the money guaranteed by the ARPA funds.

Of the $38 million needed for the project, $2.8 million comes directly from the county.

According to the plan, ErieNET will connect to 40 different town halls, 37 libraries, 11 county towers and other anchor sites. A total of 152 different sites will be connected to ErieNET.

The business plan released Thursday specifically mentions that the University at Buffalo, as well as the City of Buffalo, have expressed “serious interest” in the ErieNET project. The county is currently negotiating the budget and participation in the project with the two institutions.

One area that is not connected to ErieNET is the city of Wales. 2 On Your Side asked county officials about it, but did not receive specifics as to why.

You can read the business plan here: