New York state has put forth the third element of Governor Andrew Cuomo's $1 billion broadband program by creating a $500 million New NY Broadband Program using capital funds from bank settlements in order to give an incentive to the private sector to expand high-speed broadband access in underserved and unserved areas.
The governor said the $500 million fund will be offered as a 1:1 match for private-sector investment in improving broadband infrastructure.
"Access to high-speed internet is critical to ensuring that all New Yorkers can reach their full potential in today's technology-driven world," Governor Cuomo said in a statement. "We're launching the largest state broadband investment in the nation in order to make that goal a reality."
The program does not come without some hefty strings.
Participating companies would have to agree to not only match the private-sector investments but also provide speeds of at least 100 Mbps. The program will place a priority on those service providers that can deliver the highest speeds at the lowest cost. However, service providers could offer 25 Mbps to very remote unserved and underserved areas of the state with the ability to scale up to 100 Mbps or higher.
Cuomo said that the state's broadband speeds either "lag behind our competitors in the global economy, or they have no access to broadband at all."
The governor's office revealed that 5.4 million New Yorkers and 55,000 businesses cannot get access to broadband at 25 Mbps and that 7 million New Yorkers and 113,000 businesses cannot get access to broadband at 100 Mbps, including 70 percent of Upstate New Yorkers. Over 2,000 of New York's public schools report speeds lower than 100 Mbps, while nearly 500 have no broadband service at all.
Each of the state's Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) will submit a comprehensive plan to the state that identifies unserved and underserved areas, aggregates demand across residential, institutional and business sectors, details the most cost-effective means of providing universal access, and leverages state-owned assets where possible.
Another element of the program will focus on streamlining the permitting process while exploring ways to leverage its own assets, including the more than 500 miles of fiber that runs along the New York State Thruway.
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