December 28, 2013

State releases broadband funds

PLATTSBURGH — Empire State Development has released more than $14.5 million in broadband funding, initially announced in March, for nine projects.

The money will boost service through four projects in the North Country.

Locally, Nicholville-based Slic Network Solutions has projects in the towns of Schroon and North Hudson, Bellmont, Dannemora and Long Lake. Those broadband expansions get $2.1 million, $1 million, $976,426 and $1.3 million, respectively.

North Country Chamber of Commerce President Garry Douglas, co-chair of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, said the finalization of these broadband projects is more welcome news for the North Country as 2013 comes to a close.

“Communities like Lyon Mountain, Schroon Lake, Bellmont and Long Lake are now on the cusp of 21st-century technology, which will open a variety of opportunities in the years ahead,” he told the Press-Republican by email.

“And the latest award of $81.3 million to our region includes a further $6 million for additional broadband progress in the coming months.”

Most of the funding is for “last-mile” connection to broadband service, which is frequently the most expensive part and seen as one reason rural areas continue to lag behind in broadband availability.

The $14.5 million represents the first broadband grants released through Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $25 million Connect NY Broadband Grant program.

The money is expected to expand broadband access to nearly 30,000 residents and more than 2,000 businesses.

“Access to high-speed Internet is a critical resource for businesses and residents in today’s global economy,” Cuomo said in a press release.

“These grants will connect underserved and rural communities to the many benefits of broadband access, including giving local businesses the opportunity to reach consumers from around the world.

“As the state works to grow the upstate economy, these nine projects will provide the support necessary to attract and retain businesses and help create jobs for the region.”

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