More than $9 million in state funds is going toward expansion of broadband access and increasing broadband use among older adults in the North Country.
This investment is a result of a partnership between New York State, Slic Network Solutions, Inc. of Nicholville, and Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), according to an announcement from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
The effort will use money from the $6 million broadband fund awarded to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
The areas covered include the St. Lawrence County Towns of Oswegatchie and DePeyster in the Black Lake Next Generation Broadband program.
This investment will also provide broadband access from the town of Belmont to the Southern end of Malone, and in the towns of Newcomb, Minerva, and Chester. Slic will expand access to broadband services for approximately 2,500 unserved households, 134 businesses and 33 community anchor institutions in the North Country, including two schools.
By working with Slic to increase the company’s private investment, the was able to extend the reach of broadband to more unserved households, and focus on bringing older citizens into the digital age, the governor’s announcement says.
As part of the overall North Country Broadband Plan, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) will launch a broadband adoption program in the North Country. OATS is a non-profit New York City based organization that engages, trains and supports older adults in using technology to improve their quality of life and enhance their social and civic engagement.
Broadband adoption or use of broadband at home is a critical component of New York State’s Broadband Strategy. More than six million New Yorkers, or 30 percent, don’t use broadband at home due to issues such as affordability, lack of knowledge or perception of need. New York State has been working with its broadband provider and adoption partners to increase broadband adoption rates among New Yorkers. In older adults, the technology gap is a product of a much wider problem of isolation and marginalization. The OATS broadband adoption program will supplement expansion efforts by Slic by bringing the program to the communities within the North Country that need it most.
The North Country region offers plenty of options for tourists arriving from around the world. But the vastness of the region, the mountainous terrain and lower housing densities pose barriers to broadband deployment. In fact, the North Country has the highest percentage of unserved citizens in the state.