Funding Kicks Off Statewide Comprehensive Broadband and Digital Equity Planning and Stakeholder Engagement to Support Closing the Digital Divide
Awards are First Step Towards New York Receiving Full Allocation of Broadband Funding from Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that New York State's ConnectALL office has been awarded $7.2 million through the U.S. Department of Commerce's Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment and Digital Equity Act programs. Over the coming months, ConnectALL will use these funds to engage New Yorkers across the state to produce comprehensive statewide broadband deployment and digital equity plans. These plans will provide the roadmap for the state's utilization of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds to close New York State's remaining digital divide.
"Access to affordable, reliable internet is no longer a luxury - it's a necessity for connecting individuals to employment, education, and essential government services," Governor Hochul said. "This funding from the Biden-Harris administration will help to keep New Yorkers connected and build our digital infrastructure for the 21st century economy. I want to thank our federal partners for making this investment in our state, and I look forward to continuing that partnership to expand digital equity and ensure that high-speed broadband is available to all."
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said, "Internet for All initiatives will increase the affordability of Internet services with the goal of providing New Yorkers with equitable Internet access. I thank Governor Hochul for her work in expanding Internet access to address the needs of unserved and underserved communities."
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "We are pleased to receive these vital awards from the federal government to advance Governor Hochul's ConnectALL agenda. We look forward to working with our partners in every region of the state to advance a statewide plan and unlock the federal funding to support critical broadband programs."
The $1.1 billion ConnectALL initiative, announced by Governor Hochul in her January 2022 State of the State Address, is New York State's largest-ever investment in broadband, aimed at transforming the state's digital infrastructure to connect all New Yorkers through the internet. Through investments in data collection and mapping, targeted grant programs, updates to deployment policy, and statewide stakeholder engagement, ConnectALL will help New Yorkers gain access to improved broadband service and the greater economic, education, health, and civic engagement opportunities it provides.
Today's funding awards include $5 million from the BEAD Program and $2.2 million from the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program; both federal programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The ConnectALL Office in Empire State Development will use the funding from both grant programs to support a comprehensive statewide planning and stakeholder engagement effort that will inform the State's approach for subsequent implementation grant funds allocated from the more than $45 billion of federal funds included for broadband and digital equity in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. New York State has unified planning and implementation for both the BEAD and Digital Equity programs under ConnectALL to ensure a coordinated and integrated approach that will address the complete range of barriers to broadband access and use currently affecting New Yorkers.
ConnectALL's engagement efforts will include extensive outreach and collaboration with a diverse range of stakeholders across the state, including elected officials; local, regional, and Tribal governments; members of the public; internet service providers; community anchor institutions; non-profit and community-based organizations; civil rights organizations; labor organizations and unions; workforce development organizations; libraries; educational institutions; economic development organizations; local businesses and chambers of commerce; and many others. ConnectALL will work with these partners across the state to identify broadband deployment and digital equity challenges, priorities, and opportunities; leverage their expertise to inform the State's approach; ensure that the State's plans are aligned with efforts already underway; and maximize the economic development, job creation, education, and health impacts of planned broadband investments. The State expects to begin announcing its public stakeholder engagement events in January 2023.
ConnectALL will additionally utilize the awarded funds to hire the State's inaugural Director of Digital Equity and additional staff positions, as well as to establish two fellowships housed within the New York State Library to support digital equity planning and coordination. The State will also establish a Digital Equity Interagency Taskforce to convene State agencies overseeing service delivery to key populations, including the NYS Education Department, Council on Children and Families, Department of Civil Service, Department of Family Assistance, Department of Financial Assistance, Department of Financial Services, Department of Health, Department of Labor, Department of Public Service, Department of State, Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office for the Aging, Office of Child and Family Services, Office of Temporary and Disability Insurance, and others.
ConnectALL will also convene a Broadband Access Advisory Committee to advise on broadband and digital equity planning and implementation statewide; members will include representatives from key State infrastructure agencies, private-sector telecommunications operators, a representative of organized labor, and an expert in Tribal affairs.
Today's announcement comes on the heels of several recent ConnectALL achievements, including:
- Breaking ground on a $10 Million broadband infrastructure construction initiative: ConnectALL and the New York Power Authority are working to bring affordable broadband internet access to rural communities in Chenango, Tioga, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties.
- Launching the Broadband Assessment Program and Interactive Broadband Map: ConnectALL is mobilizing state resources, local and regional government partners, and the general public to challenge inaccuracies in the Federal Communication Commission's National Broadband Map, which will inform the state's final allocation of funding from IIJA. ConnectALL recently submitted a challenge of over 31,000 New York addresses that were not included in the federal map, drawing on data from the state's first ever, in-depth, interactive broadband map produced by the Department of Public Service.
- Promotion of the Affordable Connectivity Program consumer broadband subsidy: Governor Hochul recently announced that over 1 million New York households have subscribed to the program, thanks in large part to an ongoing, multi-agency and grassroots effort to build awareness of the opportunity for a $30-a-month broadband subsidy for low-income households.
For more information and updates on ConnectALL, please visit www.broadband.ny.gov.
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development is New York's chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of "I LOVE NY," the State's iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.
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