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RTO Wireless, Microsoft working with Niagara Orleans Regional Alliance to address rural broadband gap

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Thu, Jul 2nd 2020 10:00 pm

An innovative collaboration with several partners will increase internet access by means of public Wi-Fi hotspots for dozens of rural towns in Niagara and Orleans counties, according to Niagara County Legislator David Godfrey and Orleans County legislator Lynne Johnson, who are co-chairs of the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance (NORA). Deployment is already underway.

“Working with RTO Wireless, our goal is to have high-speed, reliable and affordable broadband available to every home and business across our two counties, and we won’t stop until we achieve that goal,” Johnson said. “But today with record numbers of people working from home, and our children trying to advance their education, RTO and Microsoft have ‘stepped to the plate’ to immediately help provide the internet service that is so desperately needed in times of crisis. A simple ‘Thank you’ can hardly express our gratitude for the commitment they have made.”

Godfrey added, “The technology being installed is undeniably top shelf, which reflects on RTO as one of the top technology companies in this part of the country. From the time they first presented their proposal, to working together to develop a deployment plan, RTO’s CEO Steve Hubbard and his staff have been absolutely wonderful to work with. With Microsoft’s support, these public Wi-Fi hotspots will provide secure, robust internet connections, at no cost to the municipalities, not only during the current crisis, but also into the future.”

“Microsoft approached RTO Wireless about teaming up on deploying free public Wi-Fi at venues located in rural communities that lack sufficient broadband coverage,” said RTO’s CEO Hubbard.

Microsoft offered to support the purchase and installation of the hotspot devices.

Hubbard said he was already in discussions with NORA about deploying fixed wireless broadband to the rural communities that currently lack service. The conversation evolved to an immediate measure to address the lack of broadband by identifying town buildings and schools that can support public Wi-Fi services. Public host institutions need to have existing broadband service and agree to host the equipment. RTO Wireless procured the equipment and coordinated with two local firms to install the Cisco Meraki equipment.

Launched in 2017, the Microsoft Airband Initiative seeks to close the rural broadband gap in America and around the world, with the goal of bringing broadband access to 3 million unserved people living in rural America by 2022.

Host sites being offered public hot spots include:

Orleans County

  • Albion
  • Barre
  • Carlton
  • Clarendon
  • Gaines
  • Kendall
  • Murray
  • Shelby
  • Yates
  • Village of Albion
  • Village of Holley
  • Village of Medina

Niagara County

  • Middleport
  • Wheatfield (2)
  • Wilson (2)
  • Porter

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