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Buffalo leaders proposing changes to fiber optics agreement

City wants more internet options for businesses
Posted at 5:00 PM, Dec 02, 2019

BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — With only a few options for internet service for companies doing businesses in Buffalo, City Hall leaders are trying to restructure a telecommunications license agreement in hopes of luring new providers.

The proposal now heads to the Buffalo Common Council for review

“So, this - right now - is not seen – obviously – as a market where others are ready to come,” said Darius Pridgen, president, Common Council.

Pridgen is pleased to see an 18-page proposal from Mayor Brown's administration to change the way fiber optic lines are set up in the city to generate new business.

The city's department of public works is leading changes to the license agreement.

Commissioner Michael Finn says the change is strictly for commercial not residential.

“What this will allow companies to do is to be able to move and also be able to provide a competitive structure for their customers,” Finn explained.

Pridgen says this change is long-overdue.

“I hope as the city grows that we do see competition begin to come in – who can afford to either utilize a different technology or who can run lines,” Pridgen remarked.

“Any company that agree to the terms will be able to provide service and compete for customers in the city of Buffalo,” Finn said.

But what about city residents, where the only option for high-speed internet is Spectrum?

“But that’s something that's going to take a big commitment on part of a large company- to be able to build that out across the entire city, which is very important to use because we want to see equitable service provided across the entire city all corners,” Finn replied.

Finn says the city already has two great partners providing free wi-fi in the city on Main Street downtown and at Canal side with M&T Bank and on Jefferson avenue with Blue Wireless.

Pridgen pointed out changes to the fiber optics lease agreement would create new standards across the industry.

“We need providers to come forward to make a commitment to city,” Pridgen said.

Pridgen also pointed out that for years they’ve heard a lot of residential complaints when it comes to utility companies using the city’s ‘right-of-way’. He said changes to the fiber optics lease should also “trigger” conversations to look at other utility agreements that haven’t been changed in decades because they date back to the early 1900’s.

The proposal will be reviewed Tuesday by the Common Council's legislation committee, but it will need full council approval.