New York state leaders say they will be able to complete their ambitious $500 million program to reach 100% of the state with broadband services by the end of 2018.
The State of New York's broadband program recently extended its deadline to Aug. 31 for service providers to apply for grants to enhance rural area broadband connectivity.
Service providers will use a mix of traditional fiber, coax and 5G wireless technologies.
Empire State Development is the agency coordinating the grant process and a spokesperson for the group told StateScoop the extension was not due to a lack of submissions and that the state fully expects to meet its goal of statewide broadband coverage "by 2018."
According to the state’s Broadband Program Office, the grants are focused on providing connectivity to the last 2% of the state that does not have broadband connectivity options available to consumers and businesses. Only 15% of Hamilton County residents have broadband access today, for example.
In 2016, the state government set a goal to equip 97% of New Yorkers with broadband service. As part of the program, 50% of homes and businesses will be addressed by round one in broadband grants and Charter’s broadband expansion effort.
Leveraging a mix of DOCSIS and FTTH technologies, a mix of telcos and cable operators like Armstrong, Frontier, TDS and The Middleburgh Telephone Company will provide broadband service to 30,000 homes that would have otherwise been left behind without service.
Complementing the state's program will be $170 million from the Connect America Fund (CAF) to expand broadband deployment. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai voted in January to approve Phase II funding for the state that Verizon turned down in 2015.
The CAF-II funding will be coupled with at least $200 million in state funding and private investment to accelerate broadband deployment.
New York’s CAF-II funding allocation almost did not happen. In May 2016, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said that the state might have to give back over $170 million in CAF-II funding to the FCC, which would allocate the returned funds to other states.
At that time, the FCC was looking at making the CAF-II funds that Verizon turned down available to other states that needed to upgrade their last mile network infrastructure.