Today, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced $640,296 in federal funding to connect rural and unserved New York communities to high-speed internet. The funding was awarded to the Mid-Hudson Data Corporation through the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connect America Fund program. The program is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America by ensuring all Americans have access to critical voice and broadband services, both fixed and mobile, at rates that are reasonably comparable to those in urban areas.
“The current public health crisis is making it all too clear that the digital gap in communities across Upstate New York is far too wide,” said Senator Schumer. “With this federal investment, rural and underserved communities — will have improved, more reliable voice and internet services to help them stay connected during these difficult times. I’ll continue fighting tooth and nail to secure funding that brings our rural economies Upstate into the 21st century.”
“Far too many families in rural New York don’t have access to necessary broadband services, widening the already pervasive digital divide,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This funding is great news for New Yorkers, as families, workers, and businesses across the state depend on fast internet and voice services now more than ever. I will continue fighting for the resources needed to keep our communities connected during this unprecedented health crisis.”
Reliance on connectivity has only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as Americans across the country face a new reality of day to day to life. Broadband access and internet services are now crucial for students to continue their education at home, for people who have experienced job loss or reduction in income to search for employment opportunities and access public benefits, and for patients to stay connected with their health care providers via telehealth services.