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Cuomo pledges $25M toward broader Internet access

Verizon lineman Clemente Calma installs fiber optic cable

Verizon lineman Clemente Calma installs fiber optic cable on a telephone pole in Massapequa Park, N.Y. (May 11, 2006) Credit: AP

We take our high-speed Internet for granted here on Long Island. We have come to expect consistent service not only from the cable companies to whom we fork over more than $40 per month for the right to broadband access, but also from the businesses, public institutions and even the parks and public gathering places we frequent.

So it may seem quaint to Long Islanders that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo led New Yorkers in celebrating the delivery of high-speed access to more homes around the state. But in upstate regions that are more isolated or impoverished than Long Island, home access to broadband is far from a given.

That’s largely because, even if there are local access points, the costliest part of bringing broadband to a property is the so-called “last mile” from the more central area. That process typically depends upon private cable companies whose only prospect for return on their investment is the proximity of dozens of other customers. But that’s not exactly a hallmark of rural New York State.

That makes  Cuomo’s announcement that the state will award $25 million in funding to expand high-speed Internet access in rural upstate and underserved urban areas significant.

“These funds will strengthen New York’s broadband capacity and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service in unserved and underserved communities, counties and regions across the state," Cuomo said in a statement.

Long Island will not receive any of the funds. About $1.6 million is slated to go to New York City to help connect small and medium commercial and industrial businesses. The remainder, in portions ranging from $24,000 to $2.4 million, will be dedicated to various upstate counties. A $5.3 million portion of the funds is earmarked for statewide projects, although there was no mention of Long Island in the governor’s release.

The money is being made available through the Connect NY program, which was designed to parlay networks built by existing providers into broader access points. Under Cuomo’s administration, the New York’s program has awarded about $56 million to such broadband projects -- more than any other state in the nation. 

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