Friday March 8, 2013

ZEKE WRIGHT

Staff Writer

CAMBRIDGE, N.Y. -- High-speed broadband will become available to an additional 153,000 New York households after a $25 million investment announced by the governor’s office this week.

Eighteen projects were selected to receive state funding under the Connect NY Broadband Grant Program, including local work to build up broadband networks in Washington and Rensselaer counties. With the announcement, the total amount dedicated to broadband expansion in rural and underserved parts of the state -- $56 million -- was billed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the "largest statewide broadband funding commitment in the nation."

"We are bringing high-speed Internet access to all corners of New York," Cuomo said in this week’s release. "The projects receiving these grants represent the very best proposals with the most potential to benefit statewide economic and community development efforts." He said the funds would strengthen the state’s broadband capacity and encourage "sustainable adoption" of high-speed service.

Expanded local access

Locally, Hudson Valley Wireless was awarded $2,042,177 to provide fixed wireless broadband access in the Capital Region. That investment is expected to result in newly available broadband for nearly 40,000 households and 2,000 businesses in Washington and Rensselaer counties.

The network will also enhance public safety operations by allowing municipalities to use a portion of bandwidth at no cost and enabling redundancies for public safety communications.

Hudson Valley Wireless provides wireless broadband through a network of towers and satellite transmitters. A similar investment of $100,000 secured by state Sen. Betty Little’s office allowed the same company to expand into the town of Cambridge and other parts of Washington County in 2011.

Also potentially affecting local communities in the new announcement is a $5,266,979 statewide expansion project by Time Warner Cable, resulting in high-speed Internet and access to digital TV, telephone services, and security services.

All told, this week’s funding results in about 6,000 square miles of new infrastructure, providing available high-speed service to 153,000 households, 8,000 businesses, and 400 "community anchor institutions" that previously did not have access. Completing the work will create 1,400 new jobs.

Most of the funding will be for the "last mile" of service, meaning it will provide high speed Internet connections directly to households -- typically the most expensive portion of a broadband network according to the governor’s office.

Cuomo’s release said the Connect NY program was designed to leverage existing networks built on incumbent broadband providers, private investments, and other state and federal funding sources.

The $25 million in state funds will leverage additional moneys from the private sector, for a total $32 million investment. The Connect NY program was announced last August, and the governor’s office said more than $89 million in broadband applications were submitted for review.

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