WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced $16,183,329 in federal funding to expand high-speed, broadband internet access throughout Upstate New York, and 2,883 locations in Cattaraugus County will benefit from the funding.
The federal funding was administered through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connect America Fund, which works to expand broadband deployment in underserved rural areas.
“To build the vibrant Upstate New York economy of tomorrow that creates and sustains the jobs of the future, we must invest in high-speed internet access today, so that every Upstate home, school or small business gets—and stays—connected. This federal funding is a major victory for rural communities across the state and the over 8,000 businesses and homes that will be served by it,” said Senator Schumer. “With this multimillion-dollar investment, rural counties Upstate will finally have the resources needed to close the far-too-large digital gap. I’ll always fight tooth and nail to secure funding that brings our rural economies Upstate into the 21st century.”
“Everyone deserves reliable and fast internet access,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Families, workers, and businesses who can’t access broadband are cut off from critical services and economic opportunities – it’s a necessity in the 21st century economy. I was proud to fight to make sure this funding to expand broadband access for our rural communities would stay in New York. This funding is great news and it will help give more communities throughout Upstate New York greater ability to get online and stay competitive. I will continue working to ensure our communities have the resources they need to thrive.”
In 2017, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand called on the FCC to approve a waiver submitted by New York State to use funding provided through the Connect America Fund (CAF) in an effort to make high-speed internet service available to all New Yorkers. These funds were made available when Verizon declined to accept the allocation through the last CAF disbursement, denying the rural areas through New York State that are served by Verizon the CAF funds needed to build out improved broadband service. In May 2016, Gillibrand called on the FCC to award these unclaimed funds to New York State. For nearly a year, Senator Schumer called on the FCC to reverse course and keep money designated for New York in New York and allow other companies to use these funds to improve broadband access across the state.
In the 2018 Farm Bill, Senator Gillibrand successfully included a provision to make grant funding available for rural broadband projects in high-need areas. This provision, based on Gillibrand’s bipartisan Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act (B-CROP Act), would help encourage more high-speed broadband deployment to high-need areas by awarding grants in combination with the current loan funding available through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Utilities Service. Federal funds would target the highest-need rural and tribal areas, allowing for grants of up to 50 percent of a project’s cost, and up to 75 percent for remote, high-need areas, to be awarded in combination with the current loan funding available through USDA.