Our view: Invest in NY internet expansion smartly, fairly | Editorial

Having heard similar promises before, we are cautiously optimistic that a plan to connect more New Yorkers to high-speed internet will achieve its lofty goals.

Cayuga County leaders stood with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer last fall for a rally touting a promised federal infrastructure investment that would include billions of dollars for expanding internet service.

“We believe every rural home should have broadband,” Schumer said at the time. “Just as electricity was a necessity in the 1930s, high-speed internet is a necessity now.” 

Schumer in Auburn: Cayuga County will benefit from $65B for broadband access

The money to continue that work has now arrived, and New York state is prepared to spend about $1.4 billion on a series of initiatives to expand reliable — and affordable — high-speed internet.

The need is certainly there locally, with about 3,000 homes and businesses in Cayuga County lacking broadband service. But while the state’s “ConnectALL” program has a catchy title, the reality is that connecting “as many as possible” is a more realistic goal.

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Having $1.4 billion in federal funds to work with is great, but we worry that too many cooks in the kitchen in Albany sometimes means that money isn’t spent as carefully as it could be and that politically connected municipalities get an unfair share of the spoils.

There are a lot of details to work out, and there is no single resource that will work in every urban and rural area. Setting a $30 a month price for low income families is a great part of the plan, but administering that pricing — much like connecting cables — will be easier said than done.

To be fair, the state and the county have made great strides in recent years, with Cayuga County directing about $11 million in state grants and private investments five years ago to improving internet service in places like Genoa, Locke, Moravia and Victory.

We agree with our federal, state and local leaders who say that high-speed internet is a necessity and not a luxury. Our students are relying on technology like never before, and anyone wanting to conduct business in the modern marketplace needs to be able to interact with potential customers online.

But talking about solving problems is easy. The hard part comes when it’s time to actually get the work done. That time is now, and great care must be taken to ensure that the federal windfall earmarked for high-speed internet in New York state benefits as many people as it possibly can.

The Citizen Editorial board includes president and director of local sales and marketing Michelle Bowers, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.


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