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ESD's ConnectALL office seeks public comment for state's proposals for federal BEAD funding, Digital Equity Plan


Tue, Nov 7th 2023 02:15 pm

BEAD proposals volumes 1 & 2 to serve as roadmap for $665 million in federal investments in broadband infrastructure over next 5 years

√ Digital Equity Plan addresses assets, barriers for affordable, accessible & equitable broadband across state

√ Draft plans are open through Dec. 6

Empire State Development’s ConnectALL Office seeks public comment on three draft documents it said describe how New York will bridge the digital divide in the state.

A press release noted, “The state’s proposal for the deployment of broadband equity, access and deployment (BEAD) funding, presented in two volumes, is the roadmap for $665 million in federal funding that ConnectALL will invest in internet infrastructure over the next five years. The state’s Digital Equity Plan presents the findings from an unprecedented statewide assessment of the assets and barriers to the adoption and use of internet service and the strategies the ConnectALL office will use for federal digital equity funding when that is made available to New York in 2024.

“The ConnectALL Office consulted with dozens of county and municipal governments, Tribal nations, workforce development organizations, and internet service providers, and partnered with digital equity coalitions in every region of the state to conduct stakeholder engagement events, gather data, and solicit feedback to inform the state’s plans. This included over 40 stakeholder focus groups with members of historically marginalized groups, dozens of stakeholder meetings and interviews, public listening sessions in each of the state’s 10 regions and in each borough of New York City, multiple issue-based forums, and the first-ever digital equity survey of New York residents with representative samples from key populations and across regions.”

The initial proposal describes how the ConnectALL office will determine the unserved and underserved locations that will be eligible for BEAD funding, and the criteria it will use to select internet service providers to reach those locations. Following the public comment period, ESD’s ConnectALL office will finalize the documents and submit them to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce, which oversees the federal funding programs. Once NTIA has approved New York’s broadband deployment initial proposal, ConnectALL will begin the grant program with awards anticipated in 2025 based on the timeline of the federal program.

The State Digital Equity Plan is a requirement to receive federal funding from NTIA under the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant program, though the amount of funding for New York and the associated rules have not yet been announced. ConnectALL will continue its public engagement as it develops the specific implementation plans once that funding is available, which is anticipated in 2024.

The public can read the plans and submit public comment, which will be open through Dec. 6, by visiting these links:

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