CLIFTON PARK — A high-speed internet service provider introduced itself to the Capital Region on Thursday at the firehouse where it will base a hub to serve thousands of customers.
Rochester-based Greenlight Networks has begun laying fiber optic lines and expects to connect its first area customer in late summer or early autumn. It’s starting in Clifton Park but soon will be installing infrastructure in other towns, with a goal of reaching 23,000 Capital Region households.
It expects the buildout to run $25 million and be complete by the end of 2023.
“In short order we’ll be announcing some other communities in the area,” CEO Mark Murphy said.
Greenlight currently serves about 80,000 customers in 20 communities in the Binghamton, Buffalo and Rochester areas. It has set up its main internet distribution site for the Capital Region in Albany and is recruiting 25 employees for a regional sales/service/administrative office.
Clifton Park was chosen as the starting point because it was a good partner, Murphy said, with a receptive populace and a government that helped make the project happen.
“We find it easier to work where folks are looking to bring choice to the community. Wholeheartedly, Clifton Park is one of those areas,” he said.
The Vischer Ferry Fire District Station 2 on Grooms Road is the local hub for Greenlight, which has already installed its equipment there and will give the fire district free service at its stations in return.
The rack is only about as big as a refrigerator — a slender, apartment-sized refrigerator — but it’s big enough to handle the internet traffic for 8,000 to 9,000 customers. In an earlier era, telephone switching equipment for that many homes would have filled the firehouse, Murphy said.
Saratoga County and town officials in a news release welcomed the company’s arrival in Clifton Park, noting the importance of high-speed internet access in the modern economy.
Service plans will run from $50 a month for 500 megabits per second to $200 a month for 2 gigabits per second.
Greenlight says its competitors often reduce prices and increase speeds when it enters a local market.
Murphy said, however, that Greenlight does not specifically seek to duplicate other networks.
“We’re not looking to compete with existing fiber providers in the market,” he said. “We’ve been at this nearly 11 years now. We’ve found some pretty efficient ways to build network both aerially and underground, and do it in a way where we can continue to provide extremely value-priced internet service.”
Greenlight operates mainly in urban and suburban areas.
Urban areas offer a dense base of potential customers with fewer feet of fiber optic needed for each address, while suburban areas typically offer easier and less expensive fiber installation. So the two can be fairly similar in cost for infrastructure installation.
Rural areas are more expensive to reach. Greenlight hasn’t moved into that demographic yet, Murphy said, but might consider it with the arrival of a new federal subsidy program.
Once built, the fiber lines need minimal maintenance. A crashing car or falling tree can take out an overhead line while an errant excavator can sever an underground line.
But the closest thing Greenlight has had to a nemesis in upstate New York has been destructive squirrels, Murphy said.
The human residents of Clifton Park, by contrast, have been a pleasure to work with.
“We’ve been thrilled with the reception we’ve gotten,” Murphy said. “We’re really excited to get started.”