SCHUMER: AS MADISON COUNTY CONTINUES TO RECOVER FROM COVID-19 AND CHILDREN GET READY TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL, MANY STILL DO NOT HAVE SUFFICIENT—OR ANY—ACCESS TO BROADBAND; SENATOR CALLS FOR USDA TO APPROVE $15 MILLION IN GRANT FUNDING TO ADDRESS THE COUNTY’S DIRE INTERNET ACCESS NEEDS
The COVID-19 Has Revealed Serious Broadband Access Disparities In Rural Communities Throughout Upstate New York; As Madison County Communities Are Encouraged To Stay At Home, Broadband Access Has Never Been More Vital
Senator Fought For Additional $100M In CARES Act To Fund These New Grant Programs & Provide Broadband Access For Rural Communities; Says Funding Should Be Put To Use In Communities That Need It Most
Schumer To USDA: It’s Time To Close The Gaping Digital Divide In Madison County
During a visit to Madison County on Friday, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer revealed his push to secure $15 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program, which would expand access to broadband for nearly 1,000 households across the county.
Schumer, who has long fought for broadband access in Upstate New York, explained that COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the digital divide in rural communities and said, “broadband infrastructure is as critical to the economic success and quality of life of a region as roads, electricity, and water.”
“The current public health crisis is making it all too clear that the digital gap in communities across Upstate New York is far too wide,” said Senator Schumer. “Madison County families, businesses, students and communities need and deserve top-notch high-speed broadband to keep them connected during these difficult times. I’ll continue fighting tooth and nail to secure funding that brings our rural economies Upstate into the 21st century.”
Schumer has provided strong support for rural broadband access in Upstate New York in the past year. The senator voted for the FY19 Appropriations bill which created the USDA ReConnect Program and helped Yates County secure a $10.3 million grant last year to cover 3,000+ households and businesses in the area. Additionally, in March of this year, Schumer prioritized additional funding for rural broadband and provided an extra $100 million for the USDA ReConnect Program in the CARES Act.
Schumer also supports the efforts of Madison County officials, who last year launched the Broadband Availability and Adoption (BAAT) Campaign, to determine the needs and opportunities for broadband internet growth in the region. Officials announced the broadband survey in October of last year, and made efforts to ensure those without internet access in their homes would have opportunities to answer and submit feedback. The Campaign ran until December 31 of that year.
Senator Schumer’s letter to USDA Secretary Perdue appears below:
Dear Secretary Perdue,
I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by Madison County to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) ReConnect Program.
Today, broadband is considered infrastructure as critical as roads, electricity, and water. Inadequate broadband has become a barrier to community growth, competitiveness and economic development. Madison County is underserved in many rural areas, particularly in areas in central, southwestern, and southeastern portions of the County. This grant would ensure that those underserved areas receive service which would improve the quality of life for the residents of Madison County and make the County more appealing for economic development.
I applaud Madison County for its foresight, and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval.
Thank you for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my Grants Coordinator in my Washington, DC office at 202-224-6542.
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