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ALBANY – New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report on Tuesday detailing broadband access across the state.
After the COVID-19 pandemic made the disparity in high-speed internet usage clear, many leaders have called for increased accessibility and affordability statewide.
Amongst the leaders are Senator George Borrello and Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist who have both previously released their own plans to decrease the digital divide across their regions.
“Millions of New Yorkers had to turn their homes into schools, and into workplaces as well. There’s no doubt, I think we would all agree, for New York to stay economically competitive, we need to be a leader in deploying high-speed connections and in making sure all New Yorker’s can access that,” says DiNapoli.
While former Governor Andrew Cuomo has stated that a $500 million Broadband for All program has already provided expanded connectivity to 98 percent of the population, the Comptroller’s report tells a different story.
The report states that over one million households, or roughly 14 percent do not have access to these services.
Those with the least access are found in rural or low-income areas.
Counties with the highest percent of population without broadband available were Allegany (23.4%), Cattaraugus (17.9%) and Hamilton (14.7%).
Western New York and the Southern Tier were found to have 16.3 and 16.6 percent of households without broadband access, respectively.
“Reliable high-speed internet is a necessity to effectively work, communicate, and learn in our society today,” explains DiNapoli.
DiNapoli is urging the state to use the federal funding provided under the American Rescue Plan and new funds that may be provided under the infrastructure bill currently before Congress.
The Comptroller believes this plan should include ways to accelerate universal availability of the highest speed connections, including in rural areas where there are currently no providers or only one option for service.
Further, DiNapoli encourages enhancing access for low-income households and improving affordability, particularly for low-income residents.
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