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Copake gets up to speed


New CMH Rapid Care Center brings broadband Internet to Copake

COPAKE–What puts the “rapid” in Columbia Memorial Health’s new, soon-to-open Rapid Care Center?

Part of it is high speed Internet service.

Officials knew that a “kind-of-in-a-hurry” connection to the Internet just wouldn’t cut it, so they had to figure out what was possible in this county known as one of two statewide with the worst access to broadband service.

Though the Rapid Care Center is not an emergency room, time is still of the essence in some cases.

Images taken by the facility’s digital x-ray machine will need to be sent to the hospital to be read immediately. That requires a “sizable” bandwidth connection to accomplish. The images cannot be sent by DSL or any other method besides broadband, Columbia Memorial Health (CMH) Vice President of Marketing and External Affairs Bill Van Slyke told The Columbia Paper this week.

When it came to the caliber of Internet service available at the new Rapid Care Center’s location in a portion of the Community Rescue Squad building at 283 Mountain View Road, “options were limited,” said Mr. Van Slyke.

But a new 100-foot-tall tower equipped with a microwave relay system installed by Mid Hudson Data Corporation (MHD)( will provide the needed transmission specifications.

The only other option involved using fiber-optic cables that run through various locations in the county. But Mr. Van Slyke said, “If we had to connect to actual fiber completely, it would have made the project untenable” in terms of the cost for the connecting to the cable and the ongoing service.

The community contributed $25,000 toward the installation cost of the microwave system, which is “a really important element,” he said, though he could not say the total cost of the system. CMH paid for part of the installation and will cover the annual service charges. “Without it, we would have lost a lot of the function of a rapid care center,” said Mr. Van Slyke.

The new Rapid Care Center is slated to open in mid-June, but Mr. Van Slyke would not confirm the date, only saying, “there’s more to come.”

Arnie Cavallaro, operating manager at the Mid Hudson Data Corporation based in Catskill, said by phone this week that the company has been in business since 1999 and also has acquired two wireless Internet service providers: NY Air and Wispring.

With “many projects underway,” Mr. Cavallaro said it is his business “to bring broadband to where there is none.”

The company has done business with CMH before and has a tower on top of the hospital in Hudson and many towers throughout Columbia, Greene and into Berkshire counties.

“We have the ability to tie [the hospital] into their current backbone,” he said. The large x-ray files are instantly sent and received as if “they were in the same building,” said Mr. Cavallaro.

“We have the ability to take fiber-optics convert it to licensed microwaves and convert it back to fiber-optics. The way we make it work is proprietary to our operation,” he said.

When it comes to bringing broadband to Columbia County, MHD seems to be a well-kept secret. Mr. Cavallaro said the company has “hundreds of customers in Columbia County,” does not advertise and relies on word of mouth to get new customers.

The company website says, “MHD has taken the lead in Greene and Columbia counties installing Fiber Optic Infrastructure to support multiple municipalities, E911, Police, Fire and Rescue by seamlessly connecting through our redundant Gigabit Fiber Infrastructure.

“MHD Designs, installs and maintains high end, middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure along with building state-of-the-art facilities.”

Part of the company’s core business is to provide broadband service to residential customers and according to Mr. Cavallaro, because of the “enhanced” nature of the system installed in Copake for the hospital, the town now has broadband access up to 25 megabits download and 4 megabits upload. Columbia County residents interested in broadband coverage can visit the company’s website to see if their location is covered and the cost.

In the meantime, Connect Columbia, a community action network formed to bring affordable broadband to all corners of Columbia County, Board of Supervisors Chairman Matt Murell (R-Stockport) and Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-106th), who recently hosted a community broadband meeting with Governor Cuomo’s NY Broadband Team, continue to pursue funding to secure broadband access throuoghout Columbia County.

To contact Diane Valden email

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