Greene and Columbia counties won big in the third and final round of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to secure high-speed internet for underserved areas across the state.
Nearly $211.3 million was awarded to broadband companies in the Capital Region on Wednesday as the final of three phases under the New NY Broadband program, which seeks to bring high-speed internet to every state resident by the end of 2018 through joint public-private investments in telecommunications infrastructure.
Wednesday’s awards total $341 million in federal, state and private investment for broadband access.
The following companies in the Capital Region serve all or parts of the Twin Counties and will receive awards as part of Round III:
n Hughes Network: $28,313,585
n Gtel Teleconnections: $2,110,721
n FairPoint Communications: $4,066,472
n Mid-Hudson Data Corporation: $6,404,876
n MTC Cable: $11,244,316
n Slic Network Solutions: $47,101,878
n Verizon Communications: $106,642,787
Companies in the Capital Region that do not serve the Twin Counties received the following awards:
n Hudson Valley Wireless: $2,516,045
n Middleburgh Telephone Company (MIDTEL): $2,897,635
FairPoint Communications serves the eastern and northern parts of Columbia County, Gtel Teleconnections serves the southwestern corner of the county.
Mid-Hudson Data Corporation serves much of Greene County as well as Hudson and surrounding areas.
Telecommunications companies in the Twin Counties received awards as part of Round I in August 2016 and Round II last March, with over $12.2 million in 2016 and $38 million in 2017.
“We’re very excited by the governor’s announcement for the Round III broadband award,” said F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of Columbia County Economic Development. “While we are still assessing the details, the fact that G-Tel, FairPoint and Mid-Hudson Cable and other Columbia County providers received significant awards is terrific news in connection with the governor’s efforts to provide broadband for all.”
In the second round, Columbia County received the largest allocation of funds out of any other county in the state. Round III looks just as promising, according to officials.
Mid-Hudson Data Corporation, Gtel Teleconnections, FairPoint Communications and other Columbia County providers all received significant awards, Tucker said.
“I think when the governor began his broadband initiative, Columbia County was among the lowest-served counties,” Tucker said. “Based on the awards in Round II and now in Round III, both residents and businesses are on a clear path to realizing the broadband capacity that governor’s promised the governor’s program was designed to provide.”
The number of households and businesses to be served with high-speed internet access with Round III’s funding was not determined Wednesday. The next step for officials in both counties will be meeting with winning broadband providers to discuss where the broadband service will be extended.
“It’s good news,” Tucker said. “Obviously [we’ll] look at census data and have meetings with providers to understand exactly what the implementation and routes will be. It’s a significant financial commitment on behalf of the state to provide widespread broadband service in Columbia County.”
In Greene County, two of the three broadband providers that submitted applications to the state were awarded funding: MTC Cable and Mid-Hudson Data Corporation.
Initial estimates show 4,000 locations that did not have broadband could be serviced through this Round III grant, said Warren Hart, Greene County director of Economic Development, Tourism and Planning. The final number will be determined over the next few days, he said.
“These are some of the most difficult-to-serve households remaining in Greene County,” Hart said. “Greene County has done pretty well in all three rounds. And we’ll continue to work toward filling in any remaining gaps.”
Officials are hoping to close the gaps in the remainder of the town of Lexington and a small portion of Jewett and provide service along the New York State Thruway in Greenville and portions of the town of Catskill.
“I am happy the providers who are working in our area got an extra $12 million or more,” Greene County Administrator Shaun Groden said. “We feel projects like this will allow entrepreneurial people to come to the county to work because they can work from home. We think that is the next frontier for how we can improve the work environment for people in Greene County.
“It is a very big thing for us — particularly on the mountaintop. If you convert second homes into full-time homes because they can conduct business, that is much better for the county.”
Since its launch in 2015, the state program has secured high-speed internet upgrades for approximately 2.42 million locations statewide. Forty-three projects received funding in Round III, which is about 7,544 miles of broadband infrastructure across the state, according to the governor’s office.
“I think the state has gone out of their way to identify every last household in the county,” said Ancram Town Supervisor John Reilly, chairman of Columbia County’s Broadband subcommittee.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.