New York will spend $27 million bringing broadband internet to underserved rural and urban areas of the state as part of what governor's office called “the single largest direct investment of state funding into expanding broadband access in the United States.”

The city is now accepting applications for the $25 million “Connect NY” program, which is supplemented by a $2 million Regional Council initiative, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Aug. 27.

"This investment in high-speed Internet access will ensure that the information superhighway will be open to all New York businesses," Cuomo said in a statement. "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."

More than 700,000 New Yorkers are unable to access high-speed internet, according to the governor's office, and another 6 million citizens face “significant obstacles” in connecting. The grant funds will be made available to applicants based on criteria determined by the Regional Economic Development Councils and Empire State Development, entities through which the funds were initially made available.

Criteria used to determine funds distribution include how underserved an area is, the potential positive impact from business and resident internet usage in an area, existing infrastructure that can be built upon, and degree of community support. A 2010 mapping project that identified broadband availability will continue to be used by the state to identify the most effective way to distribute funds.

Online Voter Registration

In other New York news, Gov. Cuomo announced on Aug. 27 that the Department of Motor Vehicle's new online voter registration service is being used. More than 3,400 New Yorkers, including more than 1,000 first-time voters, used the service.

Read the full press release about the DMV online voter registration service here.