New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a proposal last week to deliver high-speed Internet access to all state residents by the end of 2018. The initiative has two main components: one is a $500 million public-private partnership to deliver faster broadband and the other requires Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications to deliver high-speed, affordable broadband service to unserved, underserved and low-income residents as a condition of approval of their merger.
“Access to high-speed Internet in New York shouldn’t be limited by your ZIP code,” Cuomo said in a state news release. “Broadband is crucial to driving growth, improving our education system and connecting New Yorkers to the 21st century global economy — so ensuring that every household has access to high-speed Internet has never been more important.”
Enhancing Speeds via Partnerships
The first part of the state’s plan is called the “New NY Broadband Program,” a public-private partnership that will focus on unserved and underserved regions. Government Technology reports that the program “incentivizes ‘last-mile’ broadband connectivity in remote areas.”
According to Government Technology, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Hochul said that the state has issued a request for proposals in search of vendors to deliver 100 megabits-per-second Internet speeds in urban areas and at least 25 Mbps in less-populated parts of the state. The state, which will provide matching funds for installation costs, is accepting vendor proposals through March 1 and will make final selections by April 15, Government Technology reported.
Getting Concessions From the Cable Companies
In addition to the public-private partnership, New York is also looking to reap broadband investment as a condition of approving Charter’s $56.7 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable. Last week the New York Public Service Commission voted 3-0 to approve the merger, which the state says will lead to “more than $1 billion in direct investments and consumer benefits.”
As a condition of the deal, the combined cable company has agreed to upgrade broadband speeds across the state to at least 100 Mbps by the end of 2018 and 300 Mbps by the end of 2019. According to the state’s news release, this will benefit 2 million broadband customers in upstate New York, since Time Warner Cable only offers speeds of up to 50 Mbps for customers north of New York City.
Cuomo’s office says in the release that “145,000 homes and businesses currently without broadband will be offered high-speed access” as part of the state’s conditions for approval of the merger. Additionally, affordable high-speed service will be offered to low-income consumers, and free connections and service to underserved community centers.
Hochul said at a news conference that both the public-private partnership and the merger conditions will aid underserved parts of the state, Government Technology reports. The expanded broadband access will help schools, promote employment opportunities and generate new business opportunities.
“What is missing for so many parts of this state and so many parts of this country is high-speed access to broadband,” Hochul said. “There is an entire part of this state that deserves the attention and resources that have been neglected for decades.”