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LOCKPORT – The Lockport Town Board is likely to join other towns in helping to pay for a survey that Niagara County officials hope will lead to high-speed Internet service in rural areas.

Town Supervisor Marc R. Smith said after Monday’s work session that he expects the county’s request for $4,800 will be approved at the formal board meeting Wednesday.

The board was briefed Monday by County Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson, who is the point man for efforts to get local towns on board with the effort being promoted by the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance.

The two-county group plans to have its consultant, Evhen Tupis of Medina, issue a request for proposals as soon as this month from companies interested in providing broadband service.

That service is likely to be operated through wireless servers mounted on existing structures more than 40 feet high, Tupis said in a Buffalo News article published June 30.

Time Warner Cable and Verizon do not make high-speed Internet service available in all areas they serve. Sparsely populated areas do not have that service by phone wire or TV cable.

Smith estimated that 15 percent to 20 percent of the Town of Lockport’s homes lack access to broadband.

Godfrey said the lack of such service harms economic development and also cuts off job seekers and children doing homework from the resources that might improve their results. “To me, that’s discrimination,” Godfrey said.

He noted that many job openings these days are found only online.

Tupis seeks $4,800 per town as the maximum cost of on-site surveys of each address in a participating town. The actual cost may be less, Godfrey said. Tupis also gave the towns the option of paying him $1,000 to train their own employees to do the survey.

The initial bid is expected to be for the six towns along either side of the Niagara-Orleans county border, Godfrey said. Future service is expected to radiate outward from there.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com