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Steuben County Officials Worked With Local Internet Providers, Including Southern Tier Network To Propose Broadband Project

Schumer Calls For Over $22M To Bring High-Speed Internet To The 10% Of Residents Who Lack Connection

Schumer To Commerce: It’s Time To Speed Up This Critical Project For Steuben County

A fierce advocate for high-speed internet access in rural communities across New York, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today called on the Department of Commerce to approve an over $22 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program that would speed up Steuben County’s efforts to expand internet access and availability for all residents. According to the Federal Communications Commission, in Steuben County approximately 10% of the of population is without broadband available. The project proposed by Steuben County officials – developed in consultation with local internet providers such as Southern Tier Network – aims to connect approximately 2,289 households in the county who still lack internet access.

“The COVID pandemic has shown in no uncertain terms that access to high-speed internet is a necessity in the modern economy, not a luxury,” said Senator Schumer. “Just like we pushed for electricity in every home in the 1930s, the federal government must now invest in closing the digital divide, which is why I am calling on Secretary Raimondo to approve this critical broadband project for Steuben County.”

“We are so thankful to have Senator Schumer’s support and commitment to the expansion of broadband infrastructure. Steuben County has also been steadfast in this same commitment by investing in numerous studies and middle mile infrastructure for well over 11 years. Should Steuben County’s NTIA grant be funded, Steuben County could finally start to close the digital divide by serving some of New York’s most rural and most vulnerable populations. This basic infrastructure is imperative for rural residents to gain access to education, healthcare and job opportunities; things all individuals are entitled to,” said Chelsea Robertson, Executive Director of the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning & Development Board.

The total project cost is $26,655,920 with a proposed 15% match by Steuben County. Schumer said the proposed project would install miles of fiber optic cables and bring internet access to thousands of homes, especially in rural areas of Steuben County.

Senator Schumer’s letter to Secretary Raimondo appears below:

Dear Secretary Raimondo,

I write on behalf of Steuben County’s application to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband Infrastructure Program. This funding is integral to the development of broadband infrastructure for currently unserved population and bridging digital divide challenges for rural communities in Steuben County.

Following the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital, now more than ever, that our rural communities have modern and widely available internet infrastructure to support residents and the economy. Many of Steuben County’s rural areas in the northern and eastern portions of the county remain critically unserved and underserved for modern internet needs. Funding through the NTIA Broadband Infrastructure Program would allow Steuben County to expand quality broadband access to thousands of underserved homes and facilitate the construction of hundreds of miles of critical fiber optical cable infrastructure.

The proposed project represents a true community partnership and was developed in conjunction with leading local groups like Southern Tier Network, Inc. to help make broadband a reality for this rural community. This coalition speaks to the value this project holds for the community it would serve and tremendous impact broadband services would have on improving the lives and economic well-being of residents in Steuben County. I applaud Steuben County and the Southern Tier Network for the role they continue to play in supporting economic development within the Southern Tier and hope its application for funding is met with your approval.

Thank you for your consideration.  Please do not hesitate to contact me or my grants coordinator in our Washington, DC office at 202-224-6542.