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Syracuse-Area Data Operator Powers Up

10/10/2004 8:00 PM Eastern

Consumers in the village of Solvay, N.Y. — population 6,700 — will soon have a new broadband choice, piggy-backed into their homes via the municipal electric plant and partially funded by a state grant.

New Vision PLC of nearby Syracuse will launch Internet service and telephony, competing with Time Warner Cable and Verizon Communications Inc., before the end of the year.

Founder and CEO Carmen Branca doesn’t see himself as an overbuilder. Rather, his company is an economic tool for the village.

“Time Warner’s a great company, offering broadband services for small businesses. But we can offer high-speed data to larger-sized businesses and make it attractive for various levels of business,” Branca said during a call transported via electric plant. “Are we a competitor [for high-speed Internet] customers? I say no. We’re going after the 90 million dial-up users that haven’t given high-speed a chance.”

Time Warner Cable offers both digital telephone and Road Runner Premium high-speed data service to the market. Syracuse division vice president of public affairs Jeff Unaitis pointed to a very aggressive package offer. Dubbed “talk and surf,” it bundles unlimited local and long-distance calls with high-speed Internet for $79.95 a month.

New Visions might be a new alternative, but Time Warner has a track record — and the convenience of a single bill for a proven product. “We’re growing our bundled base,” Unaitis said.

New Visions has a 10-year deal to use village infrastructure for medium-voltage power line communications. It expects to market high-speed Internet and local and long-distance calling, later adding streaming video, virtual private networking and data-storage services, plus such offerings as network monitoring.

New Vision will pay the village 7% of gross revenue.

Initially, data will be offered at 45 Megabits per second, supposedly rising to 100 Mbps within one year. New Vision hopes to undercut its rivals’ prices by 35% to 45%. Consumers connect by plugging a modem into any wall socket.

New Visions anticipates spending $1 million on the deployment — $300,000 of which will come from public funds, thanks to a grant from New York state.

That’s because New Visions located its network-operations center in Syracuse’s “Empire Zone,” a high-tech development corridor. The Sept. 21 grant announcement cited the New Visions promise to create more than 100 new jobs.

Branca said that unlike cable’s economics, powerline-delivered broadband operations do not need to be clustered to be economically feasible.

September