Jamestown featured in New York State’s $664 Million Allocation Proposal for Broadband Deployment
JAMESTOWN, NY – Last week, Empire State Development included the City of Jamestown’s plan for creating a municipally-owned broadband infrastructure in its five-year action plan. The plan, which lays out a framework for implementing $664 million of state-funding from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, describes how to most effectively invest New York’s allocation in ways that will attract private investment and reach unserved and underserved locations with a mix of fiber optic and wireless internet technologies.
“I am excited that the Empire State Development and Governor Hochul both recognize the unique opportunity that the City of Jamestown presents in establishing access to affordable internet for all,” said Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist. “Our inclusion in their action plan further proves that Jamestown is not only one step closer towards making affordable, high-speed internet for our residents a reality – but is seen throughout the state as the model for closing the digital divide.”
Mayor Sundquist estimates that a municipally-owned broadband network would cost $25 million to build and operate, but the monthly cost for users would remain fixed while providing a faster service. For residents who are participants in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program, the cost of 1-gigabit internet service could be provided with no charge to the user.
“The average cost of internet in the city is about $75 a month. And for the average family that has kids in the school district, they can’t afford it. “Sundquist said. “Our city has the unique advantage of already owning the infrastructure required for hanging fiber-optic lines and once funded, we will be able to immediately share savings with our residents resulting in a 10x stronger service at a fraction of the cost – potentially even free.”
The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of up to a $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for qualifying households on qualifying Tribal lands. The benefit also provides up to a $100 per household discount toward a one-time purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider.
A household is eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program if the household income is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or is participating in select governmental assistance programs. Jamestown residents interested in the program can learn more by visiting jamestownny.gov/free-internet.
Additionally, the plan presents initial results from the ConnectALL Office’s digital equity survey of New York residents, which surveyed more than 5,700 people across every region of the state, was conducted from May to July 2023 and was the first ever comprehensive assessment of the digital divide in New York, encompassing both infrastructure and non-infrastructure barriers to broadband adoption. Findings from the survey reveal that New Yorkers in urban and rural areas face many of the same challenges in getting online:
- Both rural and urban respondents of the survey have difficulty paying for the internet each month in addition to their monthly expenses; 44% of urban respondents indicated difficulty paying, and 41% of rural respondents indicated difficulty paying.
- The survey demonstrated that accessibility of internet-enabled devices is close to equal among respondents from urban and rural geographies; 9.5% of urban respondents and 10.4% of rural respondents said that they did not have access to internet-enabled devices they needed at home.
- Regardless of their background, New Yorkers are concerned about their safety and security online. On average, nearly 90% of respondents reported feeling either somewhat concerned or very concerned about their online safety.