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New York looks to reinvigorate broadband with $1 billion initiative

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It's not the first time he's mentioned it, but now Governor Andrew Cuomo is making a lot more noise about it: he wants to see New York's broadband get better — both in terms of speed and deployment across the state. Cuomo hopes a new program will incentivize ISPs to ramp things up by offering $500 million in public funds to propel their networks. If they want to use that cash, though, providers must match the state for every dollar (or more), which brings the total effort up to that $1 billion figure.

Will internet providers want any part of this?

If they want in, ISPs must deliver broadband speeds of at least 100 Mbps; Cuomo notes that funding priority will go to those "delivering the highest speeds at the lowest cost." Providers don't have to stick to that bar everywhere; they can slow things down to 25Mbps in "the most remote unserved and underserved areas of the state," though put infrastructure in place so that's eventually scalable to 100Mbps. "We’re launching the largest state broadband investment in the nation in order to make that goal a reality," Cuomo said in a statement.

NYS broadband

"This is a truly bold undertaking that will improve the lives of New Yorkers in every corner of the State, and I am proud to make it a priority of our administration’s second term agenda." The plan still needs to gain approval from the state legislature before getting anywhere — and that's assuming ISPs like Time Warner Cable will want any part of it. But Cuomo thinks it's a worthy mission. One million New Yorkers can't get download speeds of 6Mbps; 5.4 million don't reach 25Mbps, and 7 million haven't seen speeds of 100Mbps. It's also a problem affecting business and education. 2,000 New York public schools have reported speeds under 100 Mbps, and almost 500 are going without broadband at all, according to Cuomo's press release today.