Broadband for All

Broadband for All: How far is NYS from full connectivity and what will it take to get there?

NYSWA recently partnered with City & State NY and Crown Castle to host Broadband for All: How far is NYS from full connectivity and what will it take to get there? Experts from both the public and private sectors met to discuss New York’s continuing efforts to expand broadband internet access to unserved and underserved communities throughout the state. Discussion centered around two main topics: Broadband in NYS – Assessing the Present & Looking to the Future and The Connectivity Challenges Facing NYS Government and Industry.

Broadband in NYS – Assessing the Present & Looking to the Future

New York is on its way to making significant progress in expanding broadband internet access to New Yorkers as part of NTIA and State ConnectAll funding and planning underway. Federal BEAD funding and additional commitments made by Governor Hochul total $1.4 billion earmarked for rural access, digital equity and other improvements across the state. Panelists discussed the significant strides the state and industry have made in New York, while outlining how to  proceed in collaboration for the future.

While progress such as the subscription of over 1 million New Yorkers to the Affordable Connectivity Program, a $30-a-month broadband subsidy for low-income households, is to be celebrated, we still have ground to cover. For example, in addition to subsidies, we must also focus on lowering the cost of providing service to ensure a long term, sustainable solution to affordable access. NYSWA believes that wireless broadband will be one of the keys to affordability. NYSWA board member Robert Gaudioso of Snyder & Snyder, LLP states that “Providing broadband service to the unserved and underserved is a basic public utility service today. Wireless broadband is oftentimes as effective, less expensive and can be deployed in underserved and unserved areas more quickly and efficiently.  We hope that broadband funds are distributed to wireless broadband providers as quickly as possible.”

The Connectivity Challenges Facing NYS Government and Industry

Numerous challenges to the current effort were discussed including infrastructure challenges like expanding fiber optic cable networks, inaccuracies in the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband Map, and fostering cooperative partnerships between public and private organizations to solve regional challenges in rural areas. It was clear from the discussion that public and private partnerships are key to the continuing success of these connectivity  efforts whether rural or urban. Christopher Fisher, past NYSWA President and member of the NYS Upstate Cellular Taskforce, served as a panelist and remarked that “State BEAD funding should incorporate fiber to the tower builds along with fixed wireless deployments in New York’s most remote regions. Incorporating that type of architecture under BEAD is not just economically efficient, it sets the stage to further leverage future FCC 5G Mobility funding improving mobile wireless connectivity for all New Yorkers.”        

NYSWA looks forward to the continuing public and private partnership needed to tackle the significant challenges in leading New York to full connectivity.

Written by Jessalyn Gerbholz, VP of Site Acquisition for RCG Tower Group