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New York Gets $100M from Feds for Broadband Expansion

The investment is derived from $10 billion in the American Rescue Plan, a program created to address challenges amplified by the pandemic, specifically in rural America, tribal communities and low-income communities.

(TNS) — On a Zoom press conference Wednesday morning, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Gov. Kathy Hochul, announced that New York state will receive $100 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Treasury through the American Rescue Plan to broaden high-speed internet — the largest targeted investment in affordable housing connectivity in the nation. It's estimated the funding will allow New York State to connect 100,000 homes and families to affordable, high-speed internet across the state.

Senior Advisor to the President of the United States, Gene Sperling, who was also on the call, commented on the critical role need for a superior broadband connection.

"The pandemic was the national teaching moment. There was always a movement to get internet into a school, into a library, into a classroom, [and] try to help," Sperling said.

"The pandemic showed as clearly as can be if you don't have high-speed affordable broadband strong enough to allow two parents to work from home and several children to do homework from home you are not able to fully share in the economic and educational opportunity that is key to the American dream," Sperling explained.

The federal investment is derived from $10 billion in the American Rescue Plan's Capital Projects Fund (CPF), a program created to address the challenges amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically in rural America, Tribal communities, and low- and moderate-income communities. A key priority of the CPF is to make funding available to help ensure that all communities have access to high-quality modern infrastructure, including reliable, affordable high-speed broadband needed to access critical services.

New York's Affordable Housing Connectivity Program is a competitive grant program designed to fund high-speed, reliable broadband infrastructure to and within low-income housing buildings. CPF funds will be used to upgrade internet access in affordable housing units. The plan submitted to Treasury and being approved Wednesday represents 29% of the state's total allocation under the Capital Project Funds program. The state submitted proposals for the remainder of its Capital Project Funds and these applications are presently under review by Treasury.

Schumer, Gillibrand, and Hochul all spoke about the vital need for investments in modern internet service.

"$100 million in federal funding that I secured in the American Rescue Plan is now on its way to boost high-quality internet access for over 100,000 families and homes across New York. Long before the pandemic, communities across Upstate New York, from rural communities to bustling city neighborhoods, have struggled to obtain affordable, high-speed internet service," Schumer said.

"These federal dollars will go directly towards closing the digital divide, which means connecting communities to good-paying jobs, better healthcare, and higher-quality education in our schools. I am proud to deliver this major $100 million investment to provide more equitable broadband accessibility throughout the state and help New Yorkers thrive in today's digital economy," Schumer noted.

"I am proud to announce $100 million in federal funding that will be used to deliver high-speed internet to thousands upon thousands of families across New York state," Gillibrand remarked.

"During the pandemic, we saw how important high-quality broadband is for business, health care, school, and more. That's why, when we wrote the American Rescue Plan, we included robust funding for broadband delivery, which can create new economic opportunities, raise property values and improve people's life and health outcomes. I'm excited to work with the White House, Leader Schumer and Governor Hochul to get this project moving," Gillibrand added.

"Affordable, reliable broadband access is essential to connect New Yorkers with work, education, and government services, but still out of reach for far too many families," Hochul commented.

"This critical funding to unlock high-speed internet for thousands of New York renters will build on the success of our ConnectALL broadband initiative while supporting the goals [of] our five-year plan to build and preserve more affordable housing. Thanks to the Biden administration and New York's Senate and Congressional delegations, New York will continue to lead the nation in bridging the digital divide and making broadband available to all," Hochul added.

Wednesday's investment is additionally on top of federal funding secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law which included $65 billion for the expansion of high-speed internet to connect the unserved, make internet affordable, and provide resources for digital literacy.

This funding also buffers Hochul's attempt to bridge the digital divide. Last year, New York enrolled one million qualifying households in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, a nationwide subsidy to expand broadband access to low-income households. The federal program, funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides discounts of up to $30 a month toward internet service for eligible low-income households.

In partnership with federal broadband funding, Hochul's $1.2 billion ConnectALL initiative has made investments in mapping and data collection; grant programs to support municipal open-access infrastructure, rural broadband projects, and innovative service delivery pilots; broadband upgrades in affordable housing; reforms to streamline deployment and remove regulatory hurdles; and the development of a Statewide Digital Equity Plan and Digital Equity Grant Program.

Congress passed the Broadband DATA Act to better show where New Yorkers lacked internet. Last year, the ConnectALL office supplemented the federal FCC broadband data, by including more than 31,000 addresses, to help the FCC better address the needs of New York communities unserved or underserved by broadband.

© 2023 The Record, Troy, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.