BROADBAND INTERNET FOR ALL
In 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo created the New NY Broadband Program with a $500 million investment. The goal of the program was to ensure that 100% of households in New York State had access to high-speed broadband internet by 2018. For the purposes of the Program, high speed was defined at a minimum of100 megabits per second or 25 megabits per second in the most remote parts of the state.
The Program has been largely successful. According to the New NY Broadband Program Office:
When the New NY Broadband Program was launched, 30 percent of New Yorkers – approximately 2.42 million locations – lacked access to broadband. This lack of broadband coverage was most acute in the 8 upstate REDC Regions. As a result of the Program’s Round I awards and additional State-secured upgrades, broadband access was expanded by more than 2.2 million locations, to 97 percent of New Yorkers. Round II awards then extended coverage to more than 80,000 locations, to 98 percent of New Yorkers. Round III awards accomplish the Program’s mission of statewide broadband availability – addressing the balance of New Yorkers without access.
Since 2015, AdkAction has sponsored a monthly call bringing together Adirondack communities, potential broadband providers, and potential funders. This call, which has attracted participation from key executives of the Rural Utilities Services Agency of the USDA (responsible for rural broadband expansion in the US), and the NYS Broadband Program Office (developers of the requirements for state grant applications), has helped open communications so that all interested parties understand the need for and benefits of broadband access in the North Country, the possibilities and challenges of available technologies, and the potential funding opportunities. AdkAction has helped ensure that North Country communities have submitted robust applications for all three rounds of funding from the New NY Broadband Program Office. To view a complete distribution list of call participants click here.
To see a presentation on status of the New NY Broadband Program, click here.
On January 22, AdkAction Broadband Project Chairman, Dave Wolff, presented the following charts on the Telehealth Network webinar:
View the webinar below:
Phase 2 Update
Slic Network Solutions* recently received external funding and is now aggressively moving forward to complete fiber network installations in Schroon Lake, Bellmont North, and Lyon Mountain. This working capital is critical to move these projects forward as the North Country Regional Economic Development project grants are awarded on a reimbursement basis. The NY Broadband Project Office is supporting SLIC and assisting in coordination with utilities to ensure timely construction. The goal is to bring customers online in the March-April timeframe. In addition, engineering work is underway for the fiber optic network to be installed in portions of downtown Saranac Lake. Construction of the network that will provide broadband access via fiber to downtown businesses and residents along with public and business hotspots. Construction is to begin in early 2017.
Phase 2 applications for funding under the New NY Broadband Program are due by November 30. This phase is designed to fund the expansion of high-speed broadband access (>= 100 Mbps) to the many underserved and unserved areas in the North Country. The following map shows the census blocks eligible for state funding with an overlay of county and township lines. The clear/no color areas are not eligible for Phase 2 and should either be census blocks covered by Phase 1 or by the Time Warner/Charter coverage commitment.
* A wholly owned subsidiary of Nicholville Telephone Company, Slic Network Solutions delivers fiber optic based high-speed Internet, phone, and television services to 23 communities throughout northern New York. http://www.slic.com/
SPRING 2016 BROADBAND UPDATE
At the state and regional levels, much is happening in the world of broadband, and ADKAction.org continues to play a strong role in the effort to bring greater internet access to the residents of the Adirondacks. As you may remember from our last e-newsletter, the NY Public Service Commission approved the merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications earlier this year, and the New NY Broadband Program was officially launched. In early May, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave final approval of the merger. As a condition of the merger approval, by mid-summer Time Warner Cable will be required to identify an additional 145,000 households in its current franchise areas that it will add to its network.
Funding through the New NY Broadband Program was announced to connect all un-served and under-served households in the state at speeds of at least 100 Mbps. The funding is to be released in phases. The application deadline for Phase 1 was April 15th, and winning providers will be announced in the coming months. Requests for Proposals for Phase 2 funding will be let during the summer.
Of great importance at the federal level is the status of the $170 million in federal aid that was offered to Verizon to expand broadband in rural areas of New York through Connect America Funds. Verizon declined to accept the funding, and now the $170 million may be auctioned off to another state. Board Chair Dave Wolff recently co-signed a letter authored by the Adirondack Council supporting Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Governor Cuomo’s request to the FCC to reconsider diverting the funds and to instead offer them to other service providers in New York State.