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Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis F. Hightower Spotlights $39.7 Million Investment to Increase Broadband Access in New York


Friday, December 18, 2009



Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis F. Hightower Spotlights $39.7 Million Investment to Increase Broadband Access in New York

Kicking off $7.2 billion Recovery Act broadband program, Vice President Biden announced an initial $183 million in awards to expand broadband access in 17 states

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U.S. Commerce Deputy Secretary Dennis F. Hightower and New York Congressman Michael Arcuri traveled to The State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland to spotlight a $39.7 million Recovery Act grant that will bring broadband Internet service to communities across the state that lack the technology. The investment will help bridge the technological divide, boost economic development, create jobs and improve education and health care.

"This significant investment will help put people back to work immediately and lay the groundwork for sustainable economic growth for years to come,” said Hightower. Equally important, these critical investments will be fixing a ‘digital divide’ that has persisted in parts of America for far too long. Having access to high-speed Internet’s economic, health and educational benefits should be as much of a fundamental American right as attending a quality school or feeling safe when you walk down the street.”

This project will enable last mile service providers to make broadband more readily available to 250,000 households and 38,000 businesses. The grant was awarded to ION Hold Co., LLC and included $9.9 million in matching funds to build 10 new segments of fiber-optic, middle mile broadband infrastructure, serving more than 70 rural communities in upstate New York and parts of Pennsylvania and Vermont. ION plans to build a 1,308-mile network to offer broadband speeds of one to 10 Gbps to serve more than 300 community institutions and immediately connect more than 100, including libraries, state and community colleges, state and county agencies, and health clinics.

“Broadband access is critical to revitalizing the economy in our rural and post-industrial cities across Upstate New York. From extending tele-medicine services to rural communities to ensuring our nation’s children are equipped with the skills they need to compete in the global economy,” U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-N.Y. said. “I am pleased to be welcoming Deputy Secretary Hightower to Cortland for this announcement and look forward to continuing to work to get broadband access for rural communities across Upstate New York.”

“I was pleased to learn that projects to develop regional broadband networks in the North Country were two of 18 projects selected nationwide to receive federal stimulus dollars. High-speed Internet service is critical for economic development, providing access to the tools we need to learn, educate and expand. This is the kind of investment that will help New York position itself to lead in the New Economy, one based on technology and innovation,” Gov. David A. Paterson said.

Yesterday, while in Dawsonville, Georgia, Vice President Biden announced that the administration would be investing $183 million in Recovery Act funding in 18 high-speed Internet expansion projects benefiting 17 states. The grants unveiled today are just the first part of an overall $7.2 billion investment the Recovery Act makes in bringing broadband access to underserved communities—$4.7 billion through the Commerce Department and $2.5 billion funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in Maine on Thursday announced a $25.4 million Recovery Act grant that has the potential to connect one-fifth of all Maine households to a high-speed, 21st century Internet backbone.

The projects receiving funds today are the first in the $7.2 billion program being implemented under the Recovery Act to expand broadband access and adoption across the country. The awards are designed to help underserved—and often hard-hit—communities overcome the distance and technology barrier by expanding connectivity between educational institutions, enabling remote medical consultations and attracting new businesses—as well as the jobs that come with them. They are part of an over $100 billion investment in science, technology and innovation the administration is making through the Recovery Act to lay a new foundation for economic growth.