Gov. Cuomo Pledges 'Broadband Access For Every New Yorker'

Within the next four years, every New York resident will have access to high-speed Internet, or so that's the promise of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. He and his administration laid out the third part of his "2015 State of the Opportunity" agenda, that being a $1 billion broadband program that taps into both public and private resources.

As part of the plan, Cuomo will create a $500 New NY Broadband Program that utilizes capital funds from bank settlements, offering up that money as incentive to private sector parties to expand high-speed Internet access in underserved and unserved areas.

To qualify for the funding, ISPs must commit to a 1:1 financial match, which in turn will push the program above the $1 billion mark. They must also provide Internet speeds of at least 100Mbps -- Cuomo's administration will prioritize ISPs that deliver the highest speeds at the lowest cost -- though in some limited cases, providers may offer 25Mbps speeds to extremely remote unserved and underserved areas of the state as long as it's scalable to 100Mbps or more.

Internet Sign
Image Source: Flickr (Tim Lucas)

"Access to high-speed internet is critical to ensuring that all New Yorkers can reach their full potential in today’s technology-driven world," Governor Cuomo said. "We’re launching the largest state broadband investment in the nation in order to make that goal a reality. This is a truly bold undertaking that will improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the State, and I am proud to make it a priority of our administration’s second term agenda."

Why the push? There are several reasons and numerous benefits. According to Cuomo, broadband is responsible for 20 percent of new jobs across businesses, and 30 percent of new jobs in businesses with fewer than 20 employees. He also points to farmers needing broadband to manage their crops, rural doctors needing high-speed Internet access to read X-rays and scan in real time, and of course the benefits to students.

This is a lofty goal Cuomo has set out to achieve. At present, 1 million New Yorkers and 4,000 businesses don't have access to broadband at the State's previously established minimum of 6Mbps down and 1.5Mbps up. Some 5.4 million New Yorkers and 55,000 businesses don't have access to 25Mbps Internet, while 7 million residents and 113,000 businesses don't have the option of 100Mbps broadband service.