New York State is committed to spend $25 million in a "Connect NY" program to promote and expand rural broadband Internet access, according to an announcement today from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The program, along with the more than $2 million awarded through the Regional Council initiative, represents the single largest direct investment of state funding into expanding broadband access in the United States.
Grants are made available through the Regional Economic Development Councils and Empire State Development and will help expand high speed Internet access in unserved and underserved rural upstate and urban areas of New York.
By state estimates, over 700,000 New Yorkers are still unable to access broadband, and another six million citizens face significant obstacles to Internet connectivity.
Expanding high-speed Internet was identified last year by the Regional Councils as a key priority to stimulate local business growth.
The Broadband Internet grants, such as Connect NY, are intended spur investment by service providers in communities and help boost economic development in each region by expanding the ability of local businesses to reach consumers globally.
"This investment in high-speed Internet access will ensure that the information superhighway will be open to all New York businesses," Governor Cuomo said. "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."
To be submitted by an Oct. 5 deadline, the applications will be reviewed and scored by the Regional Councils and Empire State Development based on the following metrics:
· Priority Areas and Demonstrated Need: Providing new service to areas with little or no Internet service. Additional weight will be given for plans that provide more Internet access to the local public through libraries, parks, and other community areas, help local health centers provide new online access to health records and services, and expand Internet service in economically distressed areas
· Impact and Adoption: Creating a plan for educating local businesses and residents on how to use broadband to increase economic development and enhance quality of life.
· Leveraging Existing Infrastructure and Funding Sources: Building off existing Internet networks to more efficiently increase high speed Internet service in communities that have broadband in only some areas but not throughout the area
· Regional Economic Development Council Endorsement: The integration broadband into regional economic development strategies is a critical success factor for the sustainability and enhancement of New York’s Digital Economy. Up to 20% of the evaluation criteria will be based on the degree to which the project meets and advances the goals and objectives stated in the Regional Council Strategic Plan
· Collaboration and Community Support: A critical success factor for broadband deployment projects is strong community support for the project and a community vested in the successful outcome of the project. Additional weight will be given for projects that demonstrate a commitment from local governments or broadband service provides, including public/private partnerships.
"Broadband is a powerful tool for economic development that will make our businesses stronger and New York more competitive in the national and international markets," said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. "Expanding broadband will result in more economic opportunity for business and more jobs for New Yorkers."
For more information on New York State’s efforts to expand broadband access and current availability near you, visit:
· New York State Broadband Map <http://broadbandmap.ny.gov/>
· 2011-12 New York State Broadband Annual Report on Broadband in New York: http://www.nysbroadband.ny.gov/assets/documents/2011-2012BroadbandAnnualReport.pdf
· New York State Broadband Adoption Rate Study: http://www.nysbroadband.ny.gov/themes/broadband/images/BroadbandAdoption.pdf