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$170M for broadband expansion coming Upstate

National Public Radio

New York State will get to keep $170 million in federal funding for broadband access after all. "This administration has made an unprecedented commitment to ensuring access to high-speed internet for New Yorkers in every part of the state and this action brings us a step closer to making this a reality,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo Thursday. 

The money was originally earmarked for New York, but was at risk of going to other states after Verizon declined the money.

A bipartisan group of state officials had urged federal officials not to reallocate the money. On Thursday, they announced their effort had been successful.

"This is huge news for rural communities all across Upstate New York," said Democratic U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. "The federal government’s job should be to invest not divest in Upstate New York’s internet access."

The money will support the expansion of broadband access throughout rural areas of upstate, something that officials say is needed to strengthen the local economy.

“Reliable, fast internet access should not be a luxury, it’s a necessity in the 21st century economy,” said Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “These federal funds combined with additional state funds will give our rural communities in Upstate New York greater access to the resources they need to get online and stay competitive in our digital economy.”

"Access to rural broadband is crucial for Western New Yorkers," said Republican Rep. Chris Collins. "This money is a critical investment in New York's future and I'm proud to have partnered with Senator Schumer and Governor Cuomo to get this done."

The New NY Broadband Program sets as its goal access to speeds of 100 Mbps for all New Yorkers with 25 Mbps acceptable in the most remote and rural areas. This goal far exceeds the 10 Mbps requirement of the Federal Communications Commission's Connect America Fund program and also requires that projects be completed on a more accelerated timeline.

Many Upstate New York homes do not meet New York’s enhanced goal of 100 Mbps nor the FCC’s broadband benchmark speeds of 25 Mbps for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. According to the FCC’s 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the previous 4 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads standard – set in 2010 – were dated and inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way.

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