The bad news: Most of the funds from a $500 million state program to improve broadband Internet access across New York won’t come to Long Island.
The good news: Long Island doesn’t need the help.
Nassau and Suffolk counties are far ahead of the curve regarding high-speed Internet access, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who Tuesday announced the launch of the New NY Broadband Program’s Consolidated Funding Application Portal.
Only 4 percent of Long Island’s 2.8 million residents can’t access broadband, Cuomo’s office said, putting Nassau and Suffolk on a high rung alongside Bronx and Richmond counties. Only Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties, where just 3 percent of residents can’t get access speeds of 100 megabytes per second, rank higher.
Compare that to remote counties across the Mohawk Valley, where there’s no high-speed access at all. In the Southern Tier, only 13 percent of Schuyler County residents can access broadband at 100 Mbps or better; 100 percent of Chemung, Broome, Chenango and Tompkins county residents cannot. Similar availability limits plague the North Country and Western New York regions.
For the record: Broadband is available to all but 7 percent of Brooklyn residents and 18 percent of Queens residents, while a surprising 38 percent of Manhattan residents cannot access the Internet at 100 Mbps.
The New NY Broadband program will now accept responses to its Jan. 8 Request For Proposals for high-speed-installation plans through the application portal. Projects will be chosen through a “reverse auction” process, which rewards bids seeking the lowest state investment.
While Albany is planning separate auctions in each of the state’s 10 economic zones to “ensure statewide allocations of funding,” according to the governor’s office, there will be a “high priority on unserved areas and projects that most improve broadband Internet access in underserved areas, including libraries and educational opportunity centers.”
That means NYC might see some chunkier funding, but Long Island shouldn’t expect much from Phase 1 of the $500 million New NY Broadband program, which is designed to ensure that every New Yorker has high-speed access by 2018 – 100 Mbps for most, at least 25 Mbps in the remotest corners.
Cuomo called broadband access “essential for engaging in the 21st century economy.”
“We will be expanding reliable Internet access in underserved areas, helping businesses become more competitive and making broadband available in every corner of New York,” the governor said in a statement.
Applicants for this Phase 1 round must be prepared to complete their projects by December 2018. The state is planning to announce further New NY Broadband funding rounds later this year.
Phase 1 applications may be submitted through the Consolidated Funding Application portal through April 14. Applications and more information can be found on the state’s Broadband Program Office website.