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State announces $25 million in high-speed Internet grants

By Bethany Bump
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Several projects in the Mohawk Valley and Capital District will receive part of a $25 million state jackpot designed to expand high-speed Internet access to underserved areas of the state, according to a news release issued Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office.

The funding will be awarded through the state's Connect NY Broadband Grant Program, announced last August as a way to boost economic development and information access in rural upstate New York and underserved urban areas. So far, more than $56 million has been awarded to broadband projects in the state — the largest funding for statewide broadband access in the nation.

Overall, 18 projects were selected out of more than $89 million in broadband applications submitted through the state's consolidated funding application. Winners were chosen based on technical scores and the endorsement of their regional councils. Cuomo awarded nearly $6 million in similar funding in December to projects in the North Country, as part of the second round of Regional Economic Development Council awards.

Connect NY projects are expected to create 1,400 new jobs, according to the release. They will build approximately 6,000 square miles of new infrastructure and provide service to 153,000 households, 8,000 businesses and 400 community institutions. Most of the funding will be for the “last mile” of broadband service — the most expensive portion of a broadband network that often prevents rural residents from receiving broadband service, even when it's available to nearby homes.

The $25 million in state funding will be accompanied by a private sector investment for each project, increasing the total statewide investment to more than $32 million.

Project winners in the area include:

• $1.8 million for the MTC Broadband Buildout, a project sponsored by the MARK Project Inc. that will deliver telecommunications services like broadband, voice and video services to 900 residents, businesses and anchor institutions within the unserved areas of the towns of Conesville and Gilboa in Schoharie County, as well as others in Greene, Delaware and Orange counties. Community anchor institutions within the service area will receive broadband connectivity for free.

• $2.04 million for Connecting the Capital Region, a Hudson Valley Wireless-sponsored project to provide high-speed fixed wireless broadband access to nearly 40,000 households and 2,000 businesses that currently do not have access in Washington and Rensselaer counties. The network will enhance public safety operations in the region by enabling redundancy of public safety communications and by allowing municipalities to use a portion of the bandwidth at no cost.

• $5.27 million for the Statewide Broadband Expansion, a Time Warner Cable-sponsored project that will deploy high-speed Internet service to 4,114 households in the Capital, Central, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, New York City, North Country, Southern Tier and Western regions of the state. It will also provide residents with access to digital TV, telephone and security services.

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