Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that an investment of more than $9 million will be made to expand broadband access and increase broadband use among older adults in the North Country region. This investment is a result of a public/private partnership between New York State, Slic Network Solutions, Inc. and Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) and includes funding from the $6 million broadband fund awarded to the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.
High-speed internet represents reliable communication and access to information, but the reality is that many New Yorkers still remain without access to this important resource, Governor Cuomo said. By expanding broadband services in the North Country, we can create a better living situation for underserved seniors throughout the region and ensure that residents are better connected with their communities.
This investment will provide broadband access from the town of Belmont to the Southern end of Malone, and in the towns of Newcomb, Minerva, Chester, Oswegachie and Depeyster. Slic will expand access to broadband services for approximately 2,500 unserved households, 134 businesses and 33 community anchor institutions in the North Country, including 2 schools.
The following projects are receiving New York State Broadband Grants:
- Belmont South Next Generation Broadband
- Newcomb Next Generation Broadband
- Minerva Next Generation Broadband
- Black Lake Next Generation Broadband
- Older Adults Technology Services - Building a Broadband Adoption Ecosystem for Older Adults Residents of the North Country
By working with Slic to increase the companys private investment, New York State was able to extend the reach of broadband to more unserved households, and focus on bringing older citizens into the digital age.
As part of the overall North Country Broadband Plan, Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) will launch an innovative broadband adoption program in the North Country Region. OATS is a non-profit, New York City based organization that engages, trains and supports older adults in using technology to improve their quality of life and enhance their social and civic engagement.
Broadband adoption or use of broadband at home is a critical component of New York States Broadband Strategy. More than six million New Yorkers, or 30 percent, dont use broadband at home due to issues such as affordability, lack of knowledge or perception of need. New York State has been working with its broadband provider and adoption partners to increase broadband adoption rates among New Yorkers. In older adults, the technology gap is a product of a much wider problem of isolation and marginalization. The OATS broadband adoption program will supplement expansion efforts by Slic by bringing the program to the communities within the North Country that need it most.
The North Country region offers a stunning array of options for tourists arriving from around the world. However, the vast area encompassing the region, the mountainous terrain and lower housing densities pose considerable barriers to broadband deployment. In fact, the North Country has the highest percentage of unserved citizens in the State. Hamilton County is the third largest county, with over 90 percent of county residents unable to access the Internet.
Governor Cuomo has invested more than $68 million in broadband funding statewide during his administration including $18 million in the North Country Region.
The Connect NY grants are providing businesses, schools and communities with critical access to high-speed broadband, which helps to attract economic development investments and improve the quality of public education across New York State, said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. The $9 million announced today will help more than 130 businesses expand their reach to consumers in other counties and countries, while also connecting thousands of unserved North Country residents to the services so many of us already enjoy.
In addition to the funding awarded, in January 2014, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo called for New York State to invest $2 billion in its schools through a Smart Schools Bond Act. The Act will build out schools and classrooms for the 21st Century to ensure that our students graduate with the skills they need to thrive in the economy of today and tomorrow. The Smart Schools initiative is also designed to bring Internet access to unserved communities so that students have the tools they need to extend learning outside of the classroom in the 21st century. The public is invited to share suggestions for the Smart Schools Commissions consideration over the coming months at http://www.governor.ny.gov/smart-schools-ny.