We’ve talked a lot about the digital divide in this blog, and about the transformative effect that broadband internet access can have on historically underserved communities. The busy streets of Manhattan might be the first thing that comes to mind for many people when they thing about New York, but there’s another side to the Empire State that receives far less attention. Far away from New York City, millions of people living in rural Upstate New York still lack access to modern high-speed Internet connections.
This can make it difficult for healthcare facilities to provide quality care for their patients, and prevent teachers from using the latest educational tools in their classrooms. It can also impede business development in the many communities that stretch across the mountainous green landscapes of rural New York.
Thanks to $170 million in funding provided by the FCC, however, many of these communities will soon be able to reap the benefits of broadband Internet access. An additional $200 million has been provided by the state government and private investors. Over the course of the next two years, these funds will be used to expand broadband access throughout the rural regions of New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo hopes to provide high speed Internet to all New York State residents by the end of 2018.
The FCC funding was provided as a component of the Connect American Fund—a program created in 2011to bring voice and broadband access to underserved communities all across the country.
“Broadband is critical to economic opportunity and job creation,” said incoming FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement. “This is a first step of many to fulfill my promise to empower Americans with online opportunities, no matter who they are and no matter where they live.”
To learn more about the FCC’s Connect America Fund, check out the program overview here.