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How good is NY's broadband? There's a survey for that

A yellow map of New York State.
Empire State Development Corporation
The yellow represents broadband coverage in New York State in 2018, according to Empire State Development Corporation. Then COVID-19 hit and New Yorkers found statewide coverage was not the case.

New York's Public Service Commission is doing a survey, looking at how good the state's broadband network is and where there are problems.

Before COVID-19, Albany said there was a lot of service across the state. Then, the virus hit and schoolchildren were sent home to learn — and real problems showed up.

Chautauqua County had some of those problems and is encouraging residents to go online to empirestatebroadband.com and report their experience.

"If you're in the City of Jamestown or maybe Falconer or the Village of Fredonia, Lakewood, I've got good broadband, I'm fine. What an I worried about?" said County Executive P.J. Wendel. "In the Southwestern District, where we live, there are some outlying areas that are on the edge of the Pennsylvania border, broadband is not good."

Wendel said web service providers have improved service considerably, but enough people doing the survey will say more.

"That's in the areas where they have done their work. So is there an outlying area where they may have not touched on or an area that maybe they didn't touch specifically," Wendel said. "It's not going to hurt us for people to do the survey, just give us a better idea. We're pretty confident we know where our gaps are."

As would be expected, Wendel said the more rural the section of the county, the more likely there will be problems, even in his own home school district. As a retired teacher, he has heard a lot from teachers about the problems during the long pandemic lockdown.

"We have $2.5 million of ARPA funding set aside for broadband expansion and it's going to take more. So we'll be reaching out," he said. "That's why this survey is so important. It will help us as we apply for grant funding for infrastructure projects, giving us more understanding of our needs, specifically, and give us more ability to leverage funding."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.