State Senator Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, is calling on Gov. Andrew to provide funding necessary to expand broadband service throughout New York State, especially in rural communities where he said access remains a serious problem. In a press release Wednesday, Gallivan said the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has thrown the need for a robust broadband internet network into stark relief.
“As New Yorkers continue to work remotely and students are forced to learn virtually, access to quality broadband services is critical,”said Gallivan said in a statement. “While the state has invested in the expansion of broadband, it has not done enough and too many rural communities remain cutoff from these essential services. Broadband access is not a luxury, it is a necessity.”
Gallivan’s call comes as Livingston County is waiting to hear back on whether its grant application for $14.5 million in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program to beef up broadband access in low-service areas of the county has been approved.
The grant application has the support of Sen. Charles Schumer and, more recently, of Congressman Chris Jacobs, whose 27th Congressional District includes Livingston County.
The county applied for the funding in April and has yet to hear back from USDA, said Board of Supervisors Chairman David LeFeber last week.
“We’re very hopeful and glad that we’ve got Congressman Jacobs working on our behalf in Washington on that,” LeFeber said. “...we haven’t heard anything yet on that ReConnect grant but we’re very in tuned with that. We’re going to keep pushing on that.”
If the funding comes through, the county would use it as part of a $19.3 million, public-private project to expand broadband Internet access to 5,333 households, farms and businesses in Livingston County. The county would cover the balance of the project’s cost after the grant funding, about $4.8 million.