(Watertown Daily Times (NY) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 22--The state is making a hefty, $9 million investment to expand broadband Internet access to "under-served" communities upstate -- including Northern New York.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Empire State Development grants will support five projects that will bring high-speed Internet to tens of thousands of homes, businesses and community institutions.
According to an ESD news release, the Development Authority of the North Country will get $2.7 million -- $2.2 million to fund the "North Country Public Safety Network" and the remaining $500,000 to support direct "last-mile" connections to non-commercial properties in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.
DANC CEO James W. Wright said the Public Safety Network is a long-term, tri-county project that aims to connect dispatch centers and wireless communication towers to a high-speed fiber-optic grid, which provides greater reliability and data transfer speeds.
This particular project is still in planning stages but in 18 months, 21 public emergency service operations and 20 municipal buildings that support these operations will likely be benefitting from the proposed infrastructure upgrades, according to Mr. Wright and ESD.
The second, $500,000 state grant will be matched by DANC's $500,000 investment to create a revolving loan fund to provide low-interest loans to "last-mile" providers who make direct broadband connections to north country homes and other non-commercial properties.
Time Warner Cable Inc. also will receive approximately $5.3 million to expand services to municipalities across seven regions -- Capital Region, Western New York, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Central New York, North Country and Mohawk Valley regions.
The Times was unable to reach Time Warner Cable officials for comment Friday afternoon.
In a news release, Gov. Cuomo said the ESD funding would bring broadband Internet to approximately 33,000 households, 4,500 businesses and 55 community anchor institutions across upstate New York.
"Under our Connect NY Broadband Grant program and the Regional Economic Development Councils, we are supporting projects that will connect New Yorkers and businesses to much-needed Internet access," he said in the release. "Expanding our telecommunications infrastructure is one way we can grow local economies and improve the quality of life for New Yorkers."
More than 500,000 New Yorkers currently do not have access to broadband Internet, the release said.
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