10.11.21

SCHUMER REVEALS: WITH OVER 23% OF RESIDENTS LACKING BROADBAND, ALLEGANY COUNTY HAS THE WORST BROADBAND AVAILABILITY IN NY; STANDING IN ALLEGANY— THE EPICENTER OF NY’S DIGITAL DIVIDE— SCHUMER SAYS BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL WOULD DELIVER HISTORIC FUNDING TO HELP CLOSE ST’S DIGITAL DIVIDE

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

Schumer Says An Estimated 23.5% of Households Lack Access To High-Speed Internet

Schumer: Closing The Digital Divide Will Fully Connect Southern Tier To The 21st Century Economy

After the Schumer-negotiated bipartisan infrastructure bill passed in the Senate, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today visited Allegany 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 the Southern Tier. Schumer also revealed that an estimated 23.4% of population – nearly 10,800 residents – in Allegany County are without broadband availability according to the FCC and NYS Comptroller 2021 broadband report.

“Long before COVID-19, rural and urban communities throughout the Southern Tier have struggled to close the digital divide,” said Senator Schumer. “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 also broke down the extent of the digital divide, county by county: 

County

Total population

Percentage of Population Without Broadband Available

Total Households

Percentage of Households Without Broadband Access

Allegany

46,091

23.4%

17,265

23.5%

Steuben

95,379

10%

39,283

16.9%

Otsego

59,493

8.3%

23,138

20.6%

Chenango

47,207

4.2%

20,865

19.0%

Tioga

48,203

3.6%

19,991

15.2%

Schuyler

17,807

2.6%

*

*

Delaware

44,135

2.4%

18,185

16.8%

Chemung

83,456

1.9%

33,490

17.6%

Tompkins

102,180

1.4%

40,322

15.1%

Broome

190,488

0.9%

79,309

16.5%

Schumer added “Communities in the Southern Tier 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 Southern Tier 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.

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