Broadband eyed for unserved areas

Brandon J. Tyo, an employee of Slic Network Solutions, installs fiber optic cable in Bangor in October 2017. Watertown Daily Times

A multi-million funding expenditure authorized by the federal government will help provide broadband internet to almost 4,000 unserved homes and businesses in the north country, as well as thousands more across the state.

The Federal Communications Commission granted two approvals for $55.4 million to deploy fiber-based broadband access to 23,470 previously announced unserved properties in upstate New York through its Connect America Fund, according to Empire State Development. The commission approved one $16.2 million allocation Monday, which will provide 8,088 properties with broadband access, and another $39.2 million allocation was certified on July 15, which will help another 15,442 locations.

“The Broadband Program Office’s partnership with the FCC for the innovative joint (Connect America Fund) auction represents a first of its kind federal and state collaboration to expand broadband access. Today’s announcement is an important milestone for the effort,” said Jeffrey Nordhaus, executive vice president of innovation and broadband for Empire State Development, in a statement.

Eight providers will receive portions of the approved funds over the next decade to expand their broadband footprints to unserved homes and businesses, including 3,895 in the north country. According to Empire State Development, the companies must provide downstream speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and upstream speeds of 20 Mbps.

Verizon Communications will receive $18.5 million to provide broadband to 7,767 homes and businesses, including 693 in Jefferson County, 57 in Lewis County, 1,088 in St. Lawrence County and 278 in Clinton County. The company also received funds to provide broadband to 372 unserved properties in Oswego County.

Slic Network Solutions will receive $11.3 million to expand its footprint across 4,610 unserved places, including 625 in St. Lawrence County, 499 in Franklin County, 410 in Essex County and 245 in Clinton County.

Other providers that will receive funding from the FCC’s two recent authorizations include Armstrong Telecommunications Inc., DTC Cable Inc., GTEL Teleconnections, Haefele TV Inc., MTC Cable and Otsego Electric Cooperative, according to Empire State Development.

“Our partnership with New York is continuing to connect unserved rural areas of Upstate New York,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement.

The $55.4 million allocation certified in the past month derives from an overall $170 million the commission reserved for broadband internet service expansion in upstate New York. The FCC previously planned to reallocate the funds to other states after a national telecommunications company declined the money, but several New York representatives in the state and federal government convinced the agency to provide the money to other companies.

The federal funds compliment the state’s $500 million New NY Broadband Program, a multi-year effort to ensure nearly all of the state has broadband coverage, with most places having 100 mbps speeds and more remote places having a minimum of 25 Mbps. Verizon, Slic, and other companies were awarded funding for participating in the program.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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