Delgado Applauds FCC Inclusion of NY-19 Locations as Eligible for Rural Digital Opportunity Funding

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From the office of Representative Antonio Delgado:

KINGSTON, NY- Today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) released the following statement following the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) announcement that locations across New York will be eligible for participation in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). This week’s announcement comes after Rep. Delgado’s advocacy on behalf of the state after the FCC first declared that the entire State of New York would not be receiving any federal funds in the first phase of RDOF. To reverse this decision, Delgado led bipartisan letters to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, calling for the FCC to change this categorical exclusion of New York from the first round, accounting for $16 billion of the FCC’s total $20.4 billion investment. The FCC reversed its initial decision in January, and this latest announcement makes clear which locations in New York will be able to access RDOF funding.

“I am pleased to see that New York locations were included in the FCC’s list of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund eligible sites, and that certain locations in NY-19 will be able to benefit from this large federal investment in broadband infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic reinforces the urgent need to close the digital divide and ensure our upstate hospitals, businesses and students can access the information highway,” said Delgado. “RDOF’s $20.4 billion dollars represents the vast majority of the federal government’s broadband investment over the next ten years, and to block New York from accessing approximately 80% of that funding would be unconscionable. I was glad to lead 22 of my colleagues in a bipartisan letter calling on FCC Chairman Pai to reverse its initial decision to exclude New York, and am even more pleased that these efforts will directly benefit upstate residents who desperately need broadband access. Anyone who has driven across our district knows that the need for high-speed broadband infrastructure is dire, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, where health experts are advising that folks communicate with healthcare providers via telemedicine, and school closures have children homeschooling for the immediate future. I will continue advocating for broadband investments across our district throughout this pandemic and make sure everyone has access to reliable, highspeed broadband service built out to withstand changes in technology.”

As representative of the third most rural Democratic-held district, and the eighth most rural district overall, Rep. Delgado has worked to make increasing access to rural broadband a priority in Congress.

As a member of the Rural Broadband Task Force, the Congressman has championed a number of measures to move away from census-block mapping that overcounts rural communities, and successfully amended appropriations legislation to prohibit the sole use of census-block data.

The Congressman also held a Field Hearing on Rural Broadband at Columbia-Greene Community College where FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks heard from New York’s 19th Congressional District residents about the urgent need for broadband internet access for students, medical professionals, rural communities, co-ops and more.

Following this hearing, Rep. Delgado introduced a legislative package comprised of two bills that empower communities to improve flawed broadband mapping procedures.

The first, the Broadband Speed Act, would require internet service providers to annually report data to the FCC that shows the actual speeds they are capable of providing, as opposed to their advertised speeds.

This will help demonstrate to the FCC where broadband service is actually matching the speeds being advertised, and where there are still gaps in service. It would also require that new FCC funding awards be built out at speeds of 100 mbps or higher to ensure that they are built to last.

The second bill, the Community Broadband Mapping Act, would allow local governments, electric/telephone cooperatives, economic development/community groups and small internet providers to access USDA broadband funding to create local broadband maps in order to challenge inaccurate FCC data.

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