09.01.21

SCHUMER REVEALS: NEARLY 14K HOMES & BUSINESSES ACROSS 1,700+ MILES IN CENTRAL NEW YORK LACK MODERN INTERNET ACCESS – INCLUDING 1 IN 4 SYRACUSE HOMES; SENATOR SAYS BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL WOULD DELIVER HISTORIC $65B TO HELP CLOSE CNY’S URBAN & RURAL DIGITAL DIVIDE

Schumer-Negotiated Infrastructure Deal Includes Record Funding To Bring Fast & Affordable Internet To Undeserved Communities In Rural & Urban Parts Of CNY

Schumer Says New Survey Shows An Estimated 14,000 Homes & Businesses Across 1,700+ Miles In Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga and Oswego Counties Lack Access To High-Speed Internet; While 1 in 4 Syracuse Residents Still Don’t Have Internet

Schumer: Closing The Digital Divide Will Fully Connect Central New York To The 21st Century Economy 

After the Schumer-negotiated bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in the Senate last month, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today visited Cayuga County to announce that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021 includes a record $65 billion in funding to expand access to high-speed internet in underserved rural and urban communities across the nation, including here in Central New York. Schumer also revealed new data from the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board’s (CNY RBDP) broadband internet survey project that will help the region immediately tap into the historic funding made available from the IIJA. The new survey showed up to an estimated 14,000 homes and businesses across approximately 1,775 road miles lack modern internet access in the five counties that make up Central New York.

“Long before COVID-19, rural and urban communities throughout Central New York have struggled to close the digital divide,” said Senator Schumer. “Whether you are in Sterling or Syracuse, access to reliable, fast internet service is crucial to success in today’s modern economy, which is why I fought to include a historic investment to expand high-speed internet access to underserved communities in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”

Schumer said Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Onondaga, and Oswego counties partnered with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board (CNY RBDP) and ECC Technologies, LLC to undertake a community internet survey that will build the local capacity necessary for successful broadband infrastructure projects. The data compiled from CNY RBDP’s survey – along with statistics that show 1 out of 4 homes in Syracuse don’t have internet – will provide rural and urban communities in Central New York information needed to pursue the record funding made available in the IJIA. The study revealed the following data: 

County

Est. Number Road Miles without Modern Broadband Service

Est. Number Homes and Businesses without Modern Broadband Service

Cayuga

350-400 miles

3,000 - 3,500 households/businesses

Cortland

400-425 miles

1,500 - 2,000 households/businesses

Madison

350-400 miles

2,500 - 3,000 households/businesses

Onondaga

200-225 miles

2,000 - 2,500 households/businesses

Oswego

300-325 miles

2,000 - 3,000 households/businesses

TOTAL

1,600 – 1,775 miles

11,500 - 14,000 homes/businesses

Schumer added “Communities in Central New York – which are on track to develop a plan to bring fast, reliable and affordable internet access to those without it – will be able to immediately tap into this historic $65 million investment.”

Specifically, Schumer said the recently-passed Senate bipartisan infrastructure bill – the IIJA – includes the following broadband funding programs which Central New York communities can tap to further expand future broadband access:

  • $42.45 billion for Broadband Deployment Grants to States, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Territories
    • Provides funding to the states to close the digital-divide in high-cost, unserved and underserved communities.
  • $14.2 billion for Permanent Broadband Affordability
    • Provides funding to create the new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP begins when funding for the Emergency broadband Benefit is exhausted, ensuring that qualified households will be able to access affordable high-speed internet beyond the COVID-19 emergency period. The ACP expands affordability support by broadening eligibility to 200% of the federal poverty level, adds coverage for WIC recipients, and strengthens the long-term availability of support for qualified households. The ACP protects consumer choice by guaranteeing that eligible households may use the benefit for ANY broadband service offering, preventing providers from restricting it to only certain service plans.
  • $2.75 billion for Digital Equity and Inclusion
    • Funding for states to provide digital literacy and digital skills education to low-income or senior populations, improving the online accessibility of social services for individuals with disabilities, or more accurately measuring broadband access and adoption in rural communities.
  • $2 billion for the USDA ReConnect Loan and Grant Program
    • Increases the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Loan and Grant Program and Rural Broadband Access Loan and Loan Guarantee Program to connect the most rural and hard-to-reach rural areas.
  • $2 billion for the Tribal Connectivity Fund
    • Additional funding for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, building on the program established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 that was passed in December 2020. This flexible funding will allow Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiians to meet their most urgent broadband needs, including deployment, affordability, and digital inclusion efforts.
  • $1 billion for Middle Mile Broadband infrastructure
    • Funding to assist efforts by small providers, non-profits, planning and development organizations, utilities, and others across the country to build out middle-mile infrastructure in order to drive down costs and ensure the infrastructure exists to build out to last-mile households
  • $600 million For broadband specific Private Activity Bonds
    •  The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorizes certain broadband projects as eligible activities for tax-exempt private activities bonds. Private activity bonds are bonds issued by state and local governments used to finance projects in partnership with the private sector.

Schumer said he also secured $150 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC) in the IIJA, tripling its funding from the previous 5 year period. NBRC provides dedicated funding for economic development, including high-speed internet investment, in communities along the Northern Border, including Cayuga. The NBRC is a federal-state partnership that provides economic development funding to communities across the Northern Border region, including Cayuga County. Wells College received a $1 million NBRC last month to upgrade its water treatment plant in the Village of Aurora, Schumer said.

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