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Cuomo announces $9 million in broadband grants to expand services across upstate New York

by jmaloni


Sat, Feb 22nd 2014 11:00 am

Grants will deliver broadband services to 33,000 households and 4,500 businesses

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday Empire State Development has approved more than $9 million in New York state broadband grants to support five projects that will expand access to broadband services for approximately 33,000 households, 4,500 businesses and 55 community anchor institutions across upstate New York, including in the Capital Region, Western New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, North Country and Mohawk Valley regions.

"Under our Connect NY broadband grant program and the Regional Economic Development Councils, we are supporting projects that will connect New Yorkers and businesses to much-needed Internet access," Cuomo said. "Expanding our telecommunications infrastructure is one way we can grow local economies and improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. The projects approved will allow providers to invest in communities and connect local businesses with new markets, marking significant progress in our efforts to bring broadband access to underserved New Yorkers in upstate New York."

This is the second round of broadband grants to be approved from the governor's $25 million Connect NY broadband grant program and the Regional Economic Development Council awards, which, when completed, will represent significant progress in expanding broadband services to the more than 500,000 unserved or underserved New Yorkers across the state.

As part of the $9 million award, the Development Authority of the North Country will receive $2,722,000, of which $2.2 million will be used to create a North Country public safety network that will expand vital public safety services to 21 public emergency locations, and 20 municipal buildings that support public emergency operations. The remaining $500,000 will be matched by a $500,000 investment from DANC and used to create a revolving loan fund that will support last-mile build out of telecommunications facilities in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

During this approval round, Time Warner Cable Inc., among the largest providers of video, high-speed data and voice services in the U.S., will receive approximately $5.3 million to expand services to municipalities across seven regions in New York. This is the first time TWC has applied for public broadband funding.

The state is committed to accelerating the availability, affordability and utilization of broadband technologies in order to grow New York's economy. Access to the numerous benefits of broadband access, such as e-commerce, e-government, telemedicine and distance learning, will result in job creation, improved health care, greater educational opportunities for students and teachers, and enhanced economic development.

The following projects are receiving broadband grants:

•Essex County broadband service expansion (Essex County) - $557,000

•Otsego County wireless network (Otsego County) - $558,940

•Time Warner Cable broadband (various counties) - $5,258,231

•North Country telecommunications loan fund (various counties) - $500,000

•North Country public emergency network (various counties) - $2,222,000

Most of the grant funding will be for the "last-mile" of broadband service, which means the projects will provide high-speed Internet connections directly to New Yorkers. The last-mile is the most expensive portion of a broadband network, and often prevents many rural residents from receiving broadband service, even when service is available to nearby homes.

"Access to high-speed broadband is critical to attracting business and economic development investments through-out New York state," said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams. "These grants will help thousands of businesses expand their reach to consumers in countries around the globe while also connecting underserved New Yorkers to the services so many of us already enjoy."

This past year has been a period of growth for the governor's broadband programs. With more than $68 million awarded for broadband projects during Cuomo's administration - the largest statewide broadband commitment funding in the nation - New York has strengthened its capacity to bring broadband services to unserved and underserved communities, counties and regions across the state.

With more than 500,000 New Yorkers unable to access broadband, and another 6 million citizens facing significant obstacles to Internet connectivity, expanding high-speed Internet was identified by the REDCs as a key priority to stimulate local business growth. Broadband Internet grants, such as Connect NY, both spur investment by service providers in communities and help boost economic development in each region by expanding the ability of local businesses to reach consumers globally.

The grants are awarded in the regions to Internet service companies and in partnership with local governments and economic development organizations.

Empire State Development is New York's chief economic development agency (www.esd.ny.gov). The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.

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