Schumer Turns Up the Volume on FCC Commissioner to Keep Money for NY, In NY; Says NY Can Be Model for Other States

U.S Senator Charles E. Schumer today called FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly to directly urge him to protect the $170 million in federal funds allocated for Upstate New York to expand broadband and high-speed internet service. Many telecommunications companies are using federal investment from the Connect America Fund to expand broadband Upstate, but Verizon did not accept the money it was allocated. The FCC was planning to take this unused money from New York and bid it out nationally, before Schumer stepped in and said the FCC should reverse course and keep money designated for New York, in New York.  Schumer is now advocating that the FCC grant New York’s petition to allow the state to leverage the federal funding with state dollars in order to incentivize private investment, allowing other telecommunications companies to use the federal funds so to improve broadband access across the state.

“The federal government should be investing—not divesting—in Upstate internet access. We need to keep this broadband money for New York, in New York. I told the Commissioner that New York should not be made to suffer just because of one carrier, and that the other carriers must be allowed to use these funds to expand high-speed internet. I will fight to make sure that this money stays in New York and is used it to improve broadband access for residents across New York.  This money will allow us to invest in the future and unlock more of Upstate New York’s economic potential,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer.

The FCC is currently considering a new proposal to allow New York residents to benefit from millions in federal broadband funds intended for the state, as opposed to the Commission’s original plan to divert the money to other parts of the country. Schumer explained that nearly than $300 million in federal funds through the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF) program was set aside for Upstate NY to expand broadband and high-speed internet service. While many telecommunications companies are using this federal CAF investment to expand broadband Upstate, Verizon did not accept the money $170 million it was allocated for New York State. As a result, the FCC wanted to take this unused money from New York and bid it out nationally.   Senator Schumer and the Cuomo Administration objected to this proposal, arguing that it makes more sense to keep this federal money in New York and combine it with substantial state investment in order to incentivize private companies to invest in New York; under this plan, New York could become a national model.

Last week, Senator Schumer and Representative Chris Collins organized a New York congressional letter urging the FCC should reverse course and keep money designated for New York in New York.  In May, Schumer began rallying opposition to the FCC’s original, flawed proposal, and the FCC subsequently agreed to consider allowing other broadband providers to use these funds to expand high-speed internet and keep the funds in Upstate NY.  Now the FCC has the opportunity to specifically grant New York’s request, and Schumer strongly supports them doing so.   

Schumer has long advocated for expanding broadband access in Upstate New York. In 2013, Schumer announced that the FCC heeded his call and relaxed overly stringent rules so that New York telecommunications companies could more easily access the CAF funds aimed at deploying broadband across Upstate NY. Schumer explained that the FCC’s CAF program was set up to award federal funding to private telecommunications companies across the U.S. so that they could deploy and increase access

Many Upstate New York homes do not meet the FCC’s broadband benchmark speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. According to the FCC’s 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the previous 4 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps for uploads standard – set in 2010 – were dated and inadequate for evaluating whether advanced broadband is being deployed to all Americans in a timely way. Increasing the standards for broadband speed is necessary because a single Internet connection typically powers a number of connected devices in a home. This means that, the more devices connected, the more the speed is degraded for each individual user.


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