NICHOLVILLE — The lines are growing and the prices are dropping for St. Lawrence County telecommunications company Slic Network Solutions.
The company is lowering its prices for bundled Internet, phone and television services in the north country to rates less than $100 per month.
Slic’s services are now available to 2,690 residents in St. Lawrence County and 492 in western Franklin County, a number that includes both business and residential customers, according to Slic sales engineer Jeffrey M. Yette.
“We are growing at roughly about 100 subscribers a month,” Mr. Yette said. ”We are doing about 30 installs a week.”
He clarified that some installations are upgrades for existing customers rather than for new subscribers.
The company recently brought HD television stations north to Nicholville with the help of Westelcom, Watertown, via a fiber-optic connection.
Slic’s television service is available through franchise agreements in 23 rural service areas in the townships of Bangor, Brandon, Brasher, Canton, Clifton, Dickinson, Fine, Hopkinton, Lawrence, Lisbon, Louisville, Madrid, Malone, Moira, Norfolk, Oswegatchie, Parishville, Piercefield, Pierrepont, Potsdam, Stockholm, Tupper Lake and Waddington.
Service to the adjacent villages, which requires a separate agreement, is not available.
“A franchise for a town does not allow us to provide TV within a village that it may contain,” Mr. Yette said.
Because the company often builds infrastructure in rural locales, Slic will often have its feet in multiple towns in one spot.
“Lots of times our service areas will touch upon the corners of three or four surrounding towns,” Mr. Yette said. “We’re kind of on the outskirts.”
The Madrid service area, for example, includes parts Madrid, Waddington and Chase Mills, but isn’t centered in Madrid, according to Mr. Yette.
Recently the company’s network of fiber lines has grown through building small line extensions, where it is economically feasible, such as on Elmer Road, Dickinson, in Franklin County and Whalen Road, Louisville, in St. Lawrence County. These projects are not covered by the company’s RUS stimulus grants, Mr. Yette said. The cost for building fiber lines such as these is roughly $20,000 per mile.
In some instances, residents near a Slic extension will request a connection that takes the company significant time and coordination to establish. Estimates in these cases range from six to 12 months or more.
“It’s a relatively long process,” Mr. Yette said.
Though this is not the best news to new customers, Mr. Yette wanted to offer reassurance.
“We are coming,” he said.
In these underserved areas, no more than 50 percent of the population can be using other providers for Slic’s grants to apply.
“As of right now, it is certainly one of our major focuses to be the rural provider for Northern New York,” Mr. Yette said.
In other areas, Slic is right in the center of communities, competing directly with both Verizon and Time Warner.
“We have some networks that we built out previously to compete specifically in the commercial areas of Canton, Potsdam, Massena and Ogdensburg,” Mr. Yette said. “In those areas we are competing head to head.”
He said Slic infrastructure in those towns was constructed specifically to compete in the business category.
“Typically commercial service is a higher-priced service than residential service, and so we could be competitive there,” he said.
Lois B. Raymond, Waddington, has had Slic Internet service for more than a year and describes it as an improvement. She called the quality “middle of the road.”
“They come to the house; they set it all up,” Ms. Raymond said. “We used to have Verizon DSL and it’s way better.”
The company is planning projects in both Long Lake and Schroon Lake, for which it has grants approved but needs state paperwork to finalize.