Tag: columbia county new york

Hidden History of Columbia County – lecture at HAL

04022015-1 - 1

book cover

The Hudson Area Library History Room sponsored a lecture April 2, 2015 by Allison Guertin Marchese based on her book “Hidden History of Columbia County New York” (The History Press, 2014. Available locally at The Spotty Dog Books & Ale 440 Warren St).

Ms. Marchese touched on many topics: healing waters in New Lebanon that supported a 300 room hotel, sulfur springs in Stottville, the Shakers, Electric Park, interesting people in the area, a fairly extensive comment on Edna St. Vincent Millay, the poet and finally the library’s current home at 400 State St.

(The audio is captured on an iPhone. Serviceable, but at times a bit noisy with rustles and comments)

04022015 - 3

Allison Marchese at Hudson Area Library 04/02/2015

 

Internet Access and Service Levels in Hudson and Columbia County

The Register Star featured an article today about internet service in the county, “County dials up broadband efforts: Working with local providers and developing a map of who can’t get high-speed Internet access among officials’ goals” By Nathan Mayberg. 

Counting the Number without Access Is Not Enough

It is good that our government officials are concerned with improving Internet access across the county. It is painfully obvious that Internet access is more important in our time than even rural electrification and telephone service was to earlier generations. Without Internet access people are increasingly cut off from an array of opportunities. They cannot participate fully in our culture and economy.

I want to focus on the quality of Internet access. Even in Hudson, the most densely populated part of the county, we barely have broadband service. Mid-Hudson Cable provides download speeds that are only marginally broadband. Despite their advertising campaigns proclaiming “blazing speeds” up to 5 MB/s (or for $5 extra per month – 10 MB/s) the actual service I have experienced, tested with easily available test sites on the Web, has averaged 3.7 MB/s over the last 2 years. Worse, the quality of this service is so bad that it has frequently made it difficult for me to conduct my business conferences over the Web. And, because cable Internet service is provided through a party line, when lots of people are online at the same time, the service becomes even slower and less responsive.

Some have said, “You live in Hudson, Get Verizon DSL.” Recently I have done just this. Now I get 5.2 MB/s download speeds and the service quality consistently allows for good video-conferencing. But this is as good as this service will ever get. DSL has its technical limitations. To be competitive in broadband access we need to reach for 20 MB/s and higher.

Use Next Contract to Leverage Services from Mid-Hudson Cable

What to do in the short term?

The contract between the city and Mid-Hudson is coming up for renewal next year. Our local government officials need to get involved.

  • Any new contract with Mid-Hudson must contain service level standards that are enforced by monetary means. 
  • We should expect Mid-Hudson to come to the table with a plan for enhancing Internet service in the future and this plan should be made part of the enforceable language of the contract. 
  • And, the contract should address a real economic barrier to access in Hudson. We need a three tier system. It might look like this: basic Internet with 5MB/s service for $20 per month; better Internet access with 10MB/s service for $35 per month and world class service with 20MB/s service for $60 per month. In all cases the service level agreement would guarantee that Mid-Hudson actually deliver these speeds not just their current “blazing speeds”. 

Hudson Takes the Lead –  County Benefits

If Hudson takes the lead on this, everyone in the Mid-Hudson Cable service area will benefit. We have the density and economic power to get Mid-Hudson to improve Internet access and service. Once we set the standard other communities in the county with less economic power can tag along.

Internet Service in Hudson and the Surrounding Area – more about Mid-Hudson Cable

Mid Hudson Cable Internet OfferThis offer from Mid-Hudson Cable showed up today in a bank statement from The Bank of Greene County. Mid-Hudson always gets my attention but almost never for good reasons. This ad is a continuation of their finger in your eye approach to customers. Note that it offers “DOUBLE” and “TRIPLE” your speed for Internet service without ever mentioning what it is that they are doubling or tripling. This is simply a further progression in making it hard to find out what exactly you are paying for or even what it is they are promising to provide.

If you pop over to their website you can find this (my screen grab from today with added red arrow), that says that the regular residential service package provides “5 meg”. From other advertising I know that this is likely to mean 5 MegaBits/second (MB/sec) a meaningful identifier.

Here is the rub. In almost two years of experience with Mid-Hudson I have never experienced this level of service nor the 10 MB/s for which I am now paying in an effort to get my service level up to something useful. In fact, after hundreds of measurements over the last year, I can tell you with some assurance that “5 meg” really means 3.8 meg. And, if you use the Internet services during the peak hours of late afternoon and into the evening, the service level is significantly lower.

Mid-Hudson Cable screen grab 05232011

All of this has led me to think that Hudson and Columbia County needs an Internet Service Provider that is serious about both providing service to everyone and at world competitive levels of service. I had thought that perhaps when the contract between the City of Hudson and Mid-Hudson comes up for renewal that we could put some real teeth in a new contract. Yesterday CCSCoop published this story, “Mid-Hudson Cable Gets Icy Reception in Greenville” that included the following: “

The non-exclusive contract between the town and Mid-Hudson is for “video” service only, meaning for cable television and not internet service, explained Pat Johnson, senior municipal consultant with the state Public Service Commission (PSC).

“I think you are all here for the wrong reason,” Johnson told residents, emphasizing that by state law the cable agreement cannot include conditions for internet even though Mid-Hudson provides both.”

So this appears to leave us in a situation in which Mid-Hudson has a de facto monopoly on high speed internet service in the county (Verizon only offers DSL service which is, for technological reasons, limited to below 1 MB/sec service levels) without any regulatory or contractual leverage.

Book Review: Looking for Work: Industrial Archeology in Columbia County, New York

Looking for Work by Peter stottLooking for Work: Industrial Archeology in Columbia County, New York, The Emergence and Growth of Local Industry as Revealed in Surviving Sites and Structures by Peter H. Stott, Syracuse University Press, 2007

This is a comprehensive review of industrial sites in 18 towns and the City of Hudson in Columbia County. There is a narrative historical description of the industry in each town and more detailed descriptions of the 134 sites. A great resource for anyone interested in the history of Columbia County and industrial archeology in general. The author has earlier written A Guide to the Industrial Archeology of Boston Proper (MIT Press, 1984)

More information and to purchase here.