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Lawmakers send broadband study bill to Cuomo’s desk to see who’s underserved as rural communities face growing challenge

A bill calling for a year-long study of New York’s broadband access is headed to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

New York State Assembly and Senate both passed a bill this week, in which lawmakers are calling for the New York Public Service Commission to evaluate who is being “served” and “underserved.”

“They might have internet service, but at some point in time it might be non-existent,” Assemblyman Clifford Crouch (R) said.

Crouch represents the 122nd, which is a largely rural district. Other areas in the region face similar issues with a lack of access to high speed broadband.

“You know there are percentages that you’ll hear that 98% or 99% of the state is covered, well it’s not really,” said Assembly Al Stirpe (D), “a lot of it is satellite coverage and some dial-up.”

Governor Cuomo’s office says that the NY Broadband Program,” which was enacted in 2015 and spent $500 million ensured that 98% of the state was covered.

Lawmakers think that’s a stretch, though.

“Some of the areas especially the rural areas we are finding maybe 15% of the population has access to true broadband. In a lot of places the only true broadband available is if there is a library or a school,” Stirpe added.