ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo created a program that would expand New Yorkers’ access to broadband. The program was a $500 million investment that sought to bring the internet to underserved communities by 2018.
Many parents and teachers across the state felt first hand the effects of limited internet access when schools went to remote learning this past spring. Internet was so limited in urban areas such as Glens Falls, multiple wifi hotspots were commissioned. Spectrum also offered families 60 days of free high-speed internet service.
The issue of limited or no internet was a common theme in the New York State Education Department Reopening Task Force meetings held earlier in the summer. In the Region Two meeting, educators said affordable high-speed internet was a problem for them and their students.
New York is number two for internet connectivity in the country, according to Broadbandnow. The website said 98.2% of New Yorkers have access to broadband 100mbps or faster. However, wired low-cost broadband was only available to 70% of the state.
When the New NY Broadband Program was launched, 30 percent of New Yorkers – approximately 2.42 million locations – lacked access to broadband. This lack of broadband coverage was most acute in the 8 upstate REDC Regions. As a result of the Program’s Round I awards and additional State-secured upgrades, broadband access was expanded by more than 2.2 million locations, to 97 percent of New Yorkers. Round II awards then extended coverage to more than 80,000 locations, to 98 percent of New Yorkers. Round III awards accomplish the Program’s mission of statewide broadband availability – addressing the balance of New Yorkers without access.Broadband Program Office
Schenectady County has a coverage rate of 99.8%, and both Rensselaer and Saratoga counties have a coverage rate of 99.7%, according to statistics from Broadbandnow.
The percentage of internet coverage noticeably drops off in more rural counties in the Capital Region. Columbia, Greene, Washington, and Schoharie have coverage rates of 82.5%, 86%, 87.6%, and 89.5% respectively. With coverage rates below 90%, they have the least coverage in the Capital District.