A new round of funding from the federal government is expected to improve internet access for almost 6,000 local homes and businesses.
On Monday, the Federal Communications Administration and Empire State Development announced $16.2 million in funding to aid the buildout of high-speed internet to rural customers in addition to work undertaken with funds from the New NY Broadband Program. Of that funding, almost $13 million will go to building infrastructure in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.
“Our partnership with New York is continuing to connect unserved rural areas of Upstate New York,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Closing the digital divide is the FCC’s top priority, and I’m proud that this partnership will help bring the opportunities that high-speed Internet offers Upstate.”
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “This vital federal funding will bring the benefits of high-speed Internet to small businesses, schools and families throughout underserved areas of Upstate New York.”
“The Broadband Program Office’s partnership with the FCC for the innovative joint CAF auction represents a first of its kind federal and state collaboration to expand broadband access. Today’s announcement is an important milestone for the effort, and we thank the FCC for their partnership on this recent authorization, which will bring both federal and state funding to deploy broadband to over 23,000 previously announced locations across the State.” said Jeffrey Nordhaus, Empire State Development, executive vice president of innovation and broadband.
The federal funding is being provided through the FCC’s Connect America Fund. On Aug. 1, the FCC established the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would direct up to $20.4 billion to expand broadband in unserved rural areas. An additional $121 million was awarded Monday by the FCC to projects in 14 states. Those projects aim to improve access to 36,579 homes and businesses within six years.
Through the programs, Armstrong Telecommunications Inc. will receive $12.82 million over the next decade to expand broadband to 6,709 rural homes and businesses. Of those, 3,005 are in Allegany County, while 2,883 are in Cattaraugus County. Internet speeds are to be at least 100 Megabits per second while downloading, with upstream speeds of 20 Mbps.
Under the FCC rules, providers must build out to 40 percent of the assigned customers within three years, and complete the buildout by the end of the sixth year.
The funding is in addition to the $30.78 million previously announced for Armstrong, Frontier Communications and Hughes Network Systems to address 11,800 locations in Allegany County; and the $32.65 million for the companies in Cattaraugus County to address more than 18,000 locations.
The previous rounds of funding, announced in 2017 and 2018, are beginning to see construction in the region. Armstrong officials have focused on an east-to-west construction pattern, with portions of southeastern Allegany County under construction and subscribers signing up. Construction is planned for the Cuba area in the third quarter of this year, while work in the areas around Olean is expected to begin in the fourth quarter.
According to the company’s website, more than 40 crews are at work across Western New York, planning more than 3,200 miles of fiber optic network.