With a $1 billion plan, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hopes to have every New Yorker hooked up to high-speed internet by 2019. The administration is billing it as the largest state investment in universal broadband in the country. Just how fast are we talking, here? In most cases, the program calls for providers to offer at least 100 Mbps, or as Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot described it at a press conference, “more than 10 times the federal definition of ‘broadband.'”
The plan, known as the New New York Broadband Program (yes, that is two “News”) would include $500 million in capital funds (taken from recent bank settlements). The state wants those funds to serve as an incentive for private companies by offering 1:1 financial matching for broadband providers willing to invest their own money — hence the $1 billion total size. The program is part of Cuomo’s 2015 State of Opportunity Agenda and although those matching funds call for providers to offer at 100 Mbps speeds in most cases, it does allow for as low as 25Mbps in extremely remote areas of the state.
According to Ookla’s Net Index Explorer, New York ranks third in the US with an average broadband speed of around 39 Mbps. However, stats from the state’s Broadband Program Office show that large swaths of the population lacked broadband access as recently as July 2014. In Greene County, for instance, the office estimates 91 percent of the county’s 50,000 residents lack access to 100Mbps broadband — and 79 percent can’t even muster 6Mbps. While it’s obviously very early days for the program, Cuomo’s office seems mighty bullish about its potential, even with the not-so-far-off January 1st, 2019 deadline. “At the end of the next four years,” New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said, “you’ll see that every business in this community, in this state, is connected and will have the fastest-speed broadband of any state in the nation.”
[Image credits: Bloomberg via Getty Images, New York State]