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DiNapoli: The “digital divide” plagues rural New York | New York State

HUDSON – Local, state and federal officials have traveled to Hudson to discuss the challenges of broadband in New York City.

The state comptroller’s office released a report on broadband, household access and availability on Tuesday.

“A reliable high-speed internet is a necessity for working, communicating and learning effectively in our society and this was clearly evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic when millions of New Yorkers turned their homes into schools and places. working, ”said Controller Thomas DiNapoli. at a press conference at Hudson Town Hall.

“The state has taken significant steps to make broadband accessible to most New Yorkers, but there is still a digital divide in rural New York City and for low-income New Yorkers who do not. do not have access or cannot afford a home subscription. “said DiNapoli.

Broadband can be viewed in two ways, DiNapoli said: one is availability or the geographic region that is wired for broadband. The other is broadband access. One in three New York City households with incomes below $ 20,000 did not have broadband access at home, according to the report.

New York is ranked second in the country as a percentage of the population with broadband access in its neighborhood. The report found that there are over one million homes, or 13.8% of homes in the state, that do not have access or a subscription to home broadband services.

” What are the solutions ? The state needs to develop a comprehensive strategy that can take advantage of federal funding provided by the US bailout and any new funding that may be provided under the infrastructure bill currently before Congress, ”said DiNapoli . “And were very optimistic.”

In Columbia County, 0.8% of the population does not have broadband access and 15.1% of county households do not have broadband access. In Greene County, 1.7% of the population does not have broadband access and 18.2% of households do not have broadband access.

“We need street level analysis,” said US Representative Antonio Delgado, D-19. “A much more precise methodology.

Using census block data for broadband availability maps does not accurately describe an area’s broadband availability and access, Delgado said.

Congressman Rhinebeck also spoke of the need for faster internet speeds. He said the old 25 megabits per second is no longer fast enough to do what people who learn and work from home need from their internet, and that speeds of 100 megabits are needed.

A street-level analysis of broadband infrastructure was recently conducted in Columbia County.

“The Controller Broadband Report provides valuable insight into issues of broadband access, availability and assignability,” said CEDC President F. Michael Tucker. “The data supports the initial findings of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors’ ongoing broadband study, which has identified more than 1,200 unserved. “

All of the speakers noted how important broadband became in the home during the pandemic when students were learning remotely and adults turned living rooms into offices.

“We all know that life in the COVID age has alarmingly shown every New Yorker how essential broadband is,” said MP Didi Barrett, D-Hudson. “Live, learn, work, play and stay well and healthy in the 21st century. “

Access to broadband is a public need, said Senator Daphne Jordan, R-Halfmoon.

“It’s so important to move forward with an agenda that puts the needs of the people first, and access to affordable and reliable broadband is just that,” Jordan said. “A public need, a public good, a public good – this is what State Comptroller DiNapoli has done in advancing his new comprehensive and thoughtful report which is must read for everyone.”

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Justine T. Smith

The author Justine T. Smith

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