Governor Andrew Cuomo wants New York to be the first state to offer 100 percent broadband. Phase Three to complete the goal is beginning, and the governor was in Plattsburgh Wednesday to announce that the North Country will receive substantial funding to fill in coverage gaps.
Launched in 2015, the New NY Broadband program began a plan to deploy high-speed internet across the state. Phase three provides $209.7 million in funding to complete 43 projects in eight regions of the state. Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Plattsburgh Wednesday to announce that the North Country will receive the bulk of funding in the last phase of the project. “When we started this program just a few years ago 20 percent of the North Country had internet access. Twenty percent had internet access. Round one it went to 80 percent. Round two it went to 86 percent. Now with round three 100 percent internet access for the North Country. This is the first state in the United States of America to have 100 percent internet access for the entire state. And I think that’s going to be an incentive for companies all across the world to come to New York.”
The Democrat noted the total investment in the North Country will be over $103.5 million. “You get the most money from many of the other regions. It doesn’t mean I necessarily love you more although I may. It is because the North Country was harder to cover and that’s why the state had to invest more to get that coverage. And the better the North Country does the better that upstate does the better the state as a whole does.”
Republican state Senator Betty Little of the 45th district is pleased to see that broadband access will soon be fully realized. But she says there’s more to be accomplished to enhance cell coverage. “Broadband and cell coverage is not something that’s just nice to have. It’s something that is essential for health, for safety, and for our economy. And we will never have any growth in the North Country if we don’t have cell coverage and broadband. To say we’re getting $100 million to help complete the coverage that will really get us to the finish line.”
115th District Democratic Assemblyman D. Billy Jones says 100 percent high-speed broadband will fulfill needs across all sectors. “We need broadband and high speed internet in every function every day of our lives as far as education, small business, agriculture. Our farmers need to be in real time now. That’s important for our economy up here in the North Country and I’m just so happy that we can deliver this. I don’t think we’ll actually realize what a big deal this is until five, ten, fifteen, twenty years down the road.”
GOP Assemblyman Dan Stec of the 114th District expects it will be 2019 before some of his constituents have access to high-speed broadband. “He’s basically saying there’s a plan and the funding is adequate and we will get to 100. So now it’s just the details. But you know he made the pledge that we’ll be at 100 percent and so I just I want to satisfy myself that that means all the gaps that I’m aware of in my district are either they know about and they’ve got a plan to cover them or they are working on a plan to cover them.”
When completed, state officials say 99.9 percent of New Yorkers will have access to 100Mbps or greater speed broadband.
The state has begun taking bids. The majority of the work is expected to take one year to complete although some areas may take until 2019 to access broadband.