Gov. Andrew M. Cuomos administration said Monday it will spend $25 million to improve access to broadband Internet service in rural areas of the state, an effort officials in the north country are looking to capitalize on.
Some areas of the region, including much of the Adirondack Park and parts of Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, lack access to high-speed Internet service, which is becoming increasingly vital for businesses and ubiquitous in everyday modern life. Its not a problem that the private sector appears poised to address, one official said.
What youre seeing is a recognition on the part of both the federal and state government that there is a limited ability of the private sector, a limited willingness, to invest in sparsely populated, low-density areas, said James W. Wright, the head of the Development Authority of the North Country. As a result, you see both the federal and state government committing funds to developing broadband access.
The authority has several projects in the works to improve broadband access to homes and hospitals alike all with the help of government money.
Mr. Wright said DANC will probably apply for part of the new $25 million pot, dubbed Connect NY by Mr. Cuomos administration. But he said its too early to tell what, specifically, the authority will try to do with any money it receives.
The authoritys broadband expansion projects involve middle-mile pipelines. The pipelines the authority helps construct will bring broadband over long distances, but wont directly connect it to individual customers homes. The entity that does that is known as the last mile provider.
Mr. Wright said the authority would seek partnerships with private enterprise to provide that last-mile service.
Mr. Cuomos administration said in a released statement that 700,000 New Yorkers lack access to broadband, and that 6 million more face significant obstacles to Internet connectivity. According to his office, the grants represent the largest state investment in broadband expansion in the nation.
By expanding the availability of high-quality broadband services, Connect NY makes our state a national leader in the digital economy and gives our businesses the tools they need to compete and prosper in the global economy, he said in a released statement.