New Broadband Bill aims to “close digital divide”


ALBANY, NY – The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized just how important internet access is as people continue to communicate remotely, and several advocacy groups are urging the Governor to sign off on the ‘Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act.’

NewsChannel 34’s Corina Cappabianca has more on what the legislation would do.

((Susan Lerner, Common Cause New York Executive Director)) With remote schooling in so many places, in the state school children are dependent on internet access even more than they have been previously.

Education is just one area that Susan Lerner with Common Cause New York says has had a bigger reliance on internet access during this pandemic.

Another area is elections.

((Susan Lerner, Common Cause New York Executive Director)) Everything the Board of Elections puts out sends you to an internet website, in order to find out are you registered. In order to request an absentee ballot in order to find out where your polling place is so, so much of the information that voters need has transitioned to online. Even when you receive a mailer often it tells you, For more detailed information, go online to the website of the board of elections, you don’t have broadband access, that’s very difficult to do.

Back in July the state legislature passed the Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act with overwhelming bipartisan support.

According to Senate Sponsor Jen Metzger, “This legislation requires that the PSC examine internet speeds, costs, and other factors that together affect broadband access so that we can fully close the digital divide in New York State…”

While the state invested $500 million in broadband in 2015, this map from the Citizens Buget Commission shows many rural areas in Upstate New York still did not have 100 megabits per service availability as of June 2019.

A spokesperson from the Governor’s Office says he’s reviewing the Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act bill.

Representative Antonio Delgado has also introduced a legislative package in Congress aimed to ‘close the digital divide.’

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