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Cuomo kills state-run broadband study for Upstate New York, citing costs

Last month Governor Andrew Cuomo quietly killed a piece of legislation that would have studied state-owned broadband.

The Democrat and Chronicle reported that in early December, Cuomo vetoed a bill that passed both houses and would have studied whether a government-owned and operated internet service could address the lack of internet service in rural areas.

Both chambers passed it, but he struck it down.

While Cuomo said that the bill was well-intended. However, significant state investment would be necessary.

“In order to deliver the study called for in the bill, funding must be allocated,” Cuomo said at the time.

Supporters of the bill say that corporate providers aren’t fulfilling their obligation to expand into rural communities. In an ironic twist, the Governor was critical of Spectrum for what he considered lackluster expansion of broadband service.

While the company contested it – Cuomo threatened to undo the merger that formed the company many feel hasn’t delivered in truly rural parts of the state. The state had set out on a $500 million Broadband For All program, which launched in 2015. That fell short of expectations, pointing out that companies like Charter Spectrum and Frontier Communications failed to actually expand as promised.

Several counties in the Finger Lakes still deal with poor, or spotty broadband service; and in some cases – simply don’t have access to it.

The study would have evaluated whether municipal service could have filled in where private companies see a lack of profitability.

It’s unclear if Upstate New York’s infrastructure will be a priority in the 2020 agenda.

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