Eight years after New York first rolled out its Broadband for All plan to bring Internet access to homes across the state, some rural residents still lack reliable broadband Internet access.
A $670 million federal cash infusion announced last week could change that.
New York’s $1 Billion ConnectAll Initiative is the state’s latest way to provide funding for statewide Internet connection projects and follows New York’s $500 million Broadband for All program , launched in 2015.
Now, $670 million in federal money, one of the largest single investments in broadband connectivity in New York’s history, will be earmarked to build critical Internet infrastructure in some of the state’s most rural areas. This funding comes from the bipartisan federal Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act, passed in 2021.
Long before the pandemic, New York’s communities, from rural communities upstate to bustling city neighborhoods, struggled to get reliable high-speed Internet service, US Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, said last week. Whether it’s work, school or healthcare you need, Internet access is not a luxury, but a necessity for modern life.
This funding is one of several recent federal grants for broadband access in New York, including $100 million from the American Rescue Plan and an additional $14.5 million for broadband expansion in the North Country, from federal Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure program.
More than 90 percent of all New York households had broadband Internet subscriptions in 2021, up from 86 percent in 2019, according to a recent report from the New York State Comptrollers Office.
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Which parts of New York will get new internet projects?
New York will need to submit a proposal to distribute federal grants, and when that is done, New York Internet service providers will still need to submit proposals to the state to use this funding for projects in underserved areas. So we don’t yet know where, or when, these projects will be greenlit.
But the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Map gives us clues as to which parts of New York City still lack sufficient Internet connection.
The map shows which regions lack broadband or mobile internet coverage as a percentage.
For example, in some parts of the Catskills and Southern Tier, only about 10-15% of units—either residences or small businesses—have fixed broadband coverage with at least 25 megabits per second, or mbps, speed of downloads.
Fixed broadband defines any Internet connection made via fiber, cable, DSL or satellite. New York has traditionally defined broadband Internet as download speeds of 100 Mbps and 25 Mbps in underserved areas.
Coverage in the Adirondack Park is even worse, with some areas showing 0% fixed broadband coverage.
New York mobile internet coverage is much better, the map shows that most areas show 100% coverage. However, parts of the Adirondacks have 5 to 15% mobile coverage, while areas in the Catskills show 20% to 38% coverage.
States and their residents can dispute parts of the map that they feel inaccurately reflect whether a particular area has a robust internet connection. For more information about submitting a map challenge, go to broadbandmap.fcc.gov/about.
The rural struggle for a better internetNew York promises high-speed internet for everyone, but this city has been left behind
Are these tactics working to improve internet connection in NYC?
They’re working, particularly among low-income New Yorkers, according to the New York State Comptrollers Office.
Between 2019 and 2021, broadband subscriptions among New Yorkers with annual incomes of $20,000 or less increased nearly 14 percent based largely on federal Internet access programs, the bureaus report noted. . By 2021, three-quarters of these low-income families had a season ticket.
As of May 2023, more than 1.3 million New York households had enrolled in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, which allows families at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level to access a health benefit. $30 broadband subscription.
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