Stephentown Allocated $5.8m To Upgrade Town Broadband Infrastructure
The Town of Stephentown was the largest beneficiary in the Capital District of a batch of grants to telecommunications providers to improve internet service. [private]Stephentown was allocated nearly $5.8 million last week as part of a $27 million grant to Fairpoint Communications for two projects to upgrade and modernize existing broadband infrastructure in Columbia and Rensselaer Counties.
New Lebanon will get an investment of just under 3.4 million, serving 868 homes or businesses; Berlin will get an investment of 1.85 million, serving 515 homes or businesses; and Petersburgh will get an investment of $435,000, serving 111 homes or businesses.
Stephentown Supervisor Larry Eckhardt said he was pleased with the support that the town has received through the NY Broadband Program Office (BPO). All the census tracts in Stephentown meet the FCC and BPO definitions for unserved or underserved household and business units. As such all 1543 residential and business units in town will be eligible to receive upgraded and high quality connections to the internet and other broadband services provided by FairPoint. Eckhardt said. “These awards will provide homes and businesses in Stephentown with access to the high-speed internet connections required to participate and succeed in the modern economy, and are a major step toward broadband for all in Stephentown.”
The New NY Broadband Program
Recognizing the importance of broadband infrastructure and building on prior State investments in broadband deployment, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo in 2015, with legislative support, established the $500 million New NY Broadband Program. The program provides New York State grant funding to support projects that deliver high-speed Internet access to unserved and underserved areas of the State, with priority to unserved areas, libraries, and Educational Opportunity Centers. It has a goal of achieving broadband access to all of New York by the end of 2018. The grants leverage private funds by requiring a matching investment from the recipient. The telecommunications provider who gets the grant must provide 20% of the total investment in broadband infrastructure.
The grants announced this week are part of Round 2 of this initiative. In the Capital District as a whole, the State made grants of $39.2 million in Round 2, and the matching funds brought the total investment in the Capital District as part of of Round 2 to $49 million.
The Broadband Program Office is currently finalizing a Request for Proposals for the Program’s upcoming Round III, which will launch within 30 days. This round will seek to complete the Program’s goal of bringing high-speed internet access to New York’s remaining unserved and underserved communities. Round III will be complemented by $170 million in Connect America Funds, which was recently allocated to New York State by the Federal Communications Commission.
Stephentown Town Councilman Gerry Robinson, who chaired the Town’s Comprehensive Planning Committee’s subcommittee on Broadband Infrastructure, said “the grant resources will provide an important helping hand to meeting the identified needs for broadband infrastructure improvements identified in a survey that was conducted last summer. It will also be an important lift to the other social, educational and economic goals of the town’s comprehensive planning process, now underway.” The Fairpoint infrastructure developments are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018.
Governor Cuomo said, “Broadband is today what electricity was nearly a century ago – essential to creating economic opportunity, driving innovation and an absolute necessity for our way of life.” [/private]