New state map shows which locations need access to high speed internet

On Board Online • July 18, 2022

By Matt DeLaus
Governmental Relations Intern

The state Public Service Commission (PSC) has released an interactive map that provides the most comprehensive view ever of broadband access across the state.

The map, with information on more than five million addresses, can be found at . Users can search for a specific address or click on a blue box labeled "Explore the Map."

Like all other states, New York previously used federally collected data on broadband delivery. However, that data shows a census block as "served" even if only one address within the census block has access to high speed broadband. Looking at individual homes and businesses, the PSC categorized each address as either "served," "underserved," or "unserved," based on the speed and number of providers available at each address.

The PSC found that 97.4% of addresses in the state are served by high-speed broadband service, .1% were underserved, and 2.5% were unserved.

"Although New York is in the top tier of states in terms of broadband access, in an increasingly digital world, lack of access anywhere equals loss of opportunity," said NYSSBA Executive Director Robert Schneider. "This data will help the state target efforts to address unserved and underserved areas."

In 2020, delegates to NYSSBA's Annual Business meeting approved this resolution: "NYSSBA supports increased state and federal funding to provide educational equity by addressing the digital divide created by limited access to technology and broadband."

In support of this position, NYSSBA's Governmental Relations team was involved in budget discussions surrounding Gov. Kathy Hochul's $1.4 billion "ConnectAll Initiative," which will provide funding and support to expand broadband access across the state.

The PSC developed its map in response to a legislative directive in 2021. The PSC will continue to update the map, based both on its own reviews as well as feedback from members of the public.

Consistently, rural communities had the least coverage across the state. Among New York's 62 counties, Cattaraugus, Hamilton and Lewis counties had less than 80% high speed internet coverage, while eight others (Chenango, Essex, Franklin, Livingston, Otsego, Schuyler, Wyoming and Yates) have between 80% and 90%. The North Country was the least served region of the state, with about one in 10 addresses being underserved or unserved.

Future broadband expansion efforts will be administered and coordinated through the ConnectALL Initiative, housed within Empire State Development (ESD). Using federal and state funds totaling over $1.4 billion, ESD will provide funding for the planning, design and construction of broadband infrastructure, in consultation with local governments and other stakeholders.

The most recent of these efforts is a pilot program administered by the New York Power Authority and ESD. That pilot will focus on rural areas, beginning with four towns and villages across the state. As opposed to other broadband expansion efforts that focus on the creation of new infrastructure, this pilot will target areas where existing state fiber can create a "fiber bridge" between the "first mile" (large data centers) and "last mile" (individual homes) for broadband deployment.

NYSSBA will continue to advocate for expansion of broadband coverage across the state, as well as inform our members of any opportunities for funding or collaboration.

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