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Rural Areas of CNY, New York State to Finally Receive Access to Broadband

Scott Willis / WAER News

The state of New York is partnering with communication companies as part of a continuing effort to push broadband into more isolated areas.  Without broadband, people in these areas rely on dial-up internet, which means lower transfer speeds and available bandwidth.

As part of the initiative, Tully is getting almost $185,000 in grants, and Fabius will receive more than $120,000 to cover 170 locations. This money comes from combined funding from the Connect America Fund and the state of New York.  County Legislator Dave Knapp represents much of the area and said cable company Spectrum is hooking up a significant part of southern Onondaga County with broadband.  He says it’s long overdue.

“The more research I did, the more depressing it got, quite frankly. There’s a lot of areas, especially in the southern end of the county and over on the western side more. People are literally using dial-up still, and if you can imagine that.  I mean, in this day and age with the size of the files and stuff that we’re talking about, don’t even dream about streaming.”

Knapp explains that as a result, people have had to go out of their way to conduct business that most of us can do from the comfort of home.  

“What usually happens is folks go to the local library for kids to do homework or even as we’ve heard before from a couple of places, park outside the local mini mart and use their broadband to do homework and job search, the whole nine yards.”

The lack of broadband, Knapp adds, has even affected business and the economy.  He said he’s received calls from potential entrepreneurs who are ready to start a home-based business but were inclined to go elsewhere.

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Even areas as close to Syracuse as Destiny USA still lack access to broadband.

“I’ve had some that moved into other areas within the county.  I’ve had a couple of folks that I know of that move-move out of the area, so. And those are the ones that just are a dagger to your heart because they’ve got a great idea, it’s going well, but it’s something that so many people just take for granted.  It’s a big hole.”

This effort to expand broadband is thanks to the NYS Broadband Program and their three rounds of grant awards. When the program was established in 2015, 30% of New Yorkers lacked access to broadband. Knapp says these broadband projects should cover nearly everyone who lacks access. 

“Hopefully, we’re down to just a few where then you can kind of negotiate with some of these carriers that you’re so close, go the extra mile or whatever, to get those last few houses, but I think this is really gonna help, and technology is helping us too. Obviously as the wireless and fiber get more efficient and less expensive, it makes it that much easier.”

The expansion even covers the remaining parts of Syracuse without broadband in addition to Spafford and Otisco.  The projects are part of $22,000,000 in grants set aside in the third and final round of the state’s rural broadband awards.   In all, 8,300 additional households in Onondaga, Cayuga, Cortland, Maidson, and Oswego counties will soon have access to high speed internet.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at