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State to receive funding to combat 'digital divide' in homes


New York is getting a substantial chunk of the $40 billion the federal government has put aside to end the digital divide.

Speaking in Madison County Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the Empire State will bring in nearly $670 million in federal funding from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program. Schumer said this will complete the job of making sure all New Yorkers are able to easily and reliably go online.

"There's enough money here that we'll probably be able to connect just about every home in New York in two categories, " Schumer said. "One, just people who just don't have broadband. They're in rural areas, or suburban areas that don't have broadband or good broadband. But second, it also goes to people who can't afford broadband in places, you know, you could get some in the city of Syracuse, where they're near a fiber, but they just can't afford it."

Schumer said this funding is something that’s been promised in the past, but hasn’t come through.

“Seeing what happened in the past when the promises were unfulfilled, this is money that is being delivered today," Schumer said. "So this is not just a promise, this is real dollars. Now the state will have to put together the plan in the next few months will go over it, and the money should start flowing in the fall.”

Schumer said the state will distribute the funds, which he expects to be available by the fall. It’s largely based on the Federal Communication Commission's map of unserved locations. That map shows over 140,000 unserved areas in New York, and nearly 38,000 locations that have access to a minimal level of internet speed, qualifying them as underserved.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.