The state Public Service Commission released a first-of-its-kind, interactive broadband map to provide the most detailed depiction of broadband infrastructure in New York to date.
The map, along with an accompanying report, is the result of months of field assessments conducted by the commission in the state’s most remote areas, covering more than 80,000 miles. In order to collect accurate data, the commission collaborated with 60 internet service providers and surveyed tens of thousands of New York consumers.
“High-speed internet is more essential than ever to access the basic services and information that we use in our daily lives,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said. “With this mapping in hand, we can see where to direct state and federal broadband funding to connect unserved and underserved areas. This address-specific tool is one we can wield to provide a more accurate depiction of connectivity needs in areas that have been disconnected for far too long.”
Prior to the map’s creation, New York, like most states, relied in part on federal data that only required broadband providers to deliver service to one address in a census block to designate the entire area as served. Officials said by collecting address-level data, New York is now able to depict what locations are served, underserved, and unserved in a more granular way, which will aid in allocating state and federal funding.
To support local efforts to expand affordable and reliable broadband, ConnectALL, housed within Empire State Development, will establish and administer grant programs at the state and federal level to provide funding to plan, engineer, and construct accessible broadband infrastructure. ESD will be the statewide lead for connectivity and coordinating with other state agencies, municipalities and a diverse array of stakeholders in every corner of New York.
Officials said these efforts will ensure that funding is directed where it is most needed and that every community has the support and resources it needs to connect.
Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said “high-speed internet is the great equalizer in today’s world because it is essential in accessing basic services and information that we all need in our daily lives. With this groundbreaking study, we will work to ensure that every part of the state has high-speed broadband available.”
“One of the first steps in ensuring that every New Yorker has access to affordable and reliable broadband is pinpointing down to street level where coverage exists,” said Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “ These maps will go a long way in allowing the ConnectALL office to effectively direct funding that will benefit all New Yorkers. More importantly, it serves as an important tool to address digital equity and competition so New York state can finally bridge the digital divide.”
The interactive map allows users to explore the state’s broadband availability. Users are able to search an address to see what providers are available, what technology those providers are using and what speeds and pricing packages they offer. Users are also able to search at county, municipal, and school district levels to obtain data on percentages of served, underserved, or unserved populations at each level.
The new map will allow individual New Yorkers and policymakers to analyze a more accurate representation of which locations are served, underserved or unserved.
The commission found that 97.4 percent of New York state address locations are served by high-speed broadband service providers. The map demonstrates that high-speed broadband services remain unavailable to many New Yorkers in predominately rural areas, in places like Hamilton County, and Lewis County, which are 70.2 percent and 73 percent served, respectively.
Furthermore, it shows that counties with the lowest median income were found to have the highest average prices for broadband and the lowest percentage of served locations.
Executive Director of the New York State Conference of Mayors Peter A. Baynes said, “Accessible and high-quality broadband is essential to one’s success in the 21st century economy. This map will give city and village leaders an important tool as they work to ensure that all of their residents and businesses have access to this essential infrastructure.”