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New York: Vast Majority of State Has High-Speed Broadband

New York State Capitol-Albany, New York 2019. 900x536
The New York State Capitol in Albany (Image credit: Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The vast majority of locations in New York State — 97.4% — are already served with high-speed broadband, raising the issue of just how much broadband subsidy money the Empire State will need from the tens of billions of dollars the Biden administration is putting toward closing the digital divide.

The 97.4% figure is according to the Broadband Assessment Program overseen by the New York State Public Service Commission. States were charged by Congress in the Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act of 2021 to conduct an annual assessment and map of broadband availability.

According to that report and map, 5,139,017 locations (97.4%) in New York are served by at least two providers with at least one of those offering high-speed service, defined as speeds of at least 100 Megabits per second downstream and 10 Mbps upstream. 

Also: FCC Slates Broadband Data Collection Webinar

Less than 1% (it does not even register on the above graphic), or only 5,997 locations, are consider underserved, defined as speeds “of at least 25 [Mbps] download but less than 100 Mbps download,“ and with only one ISP.

That leaves 132,601 locations, or 2.5%, unserved, which is defined as having either no fixed wireless service at all, or service “with speeds of less than 25 Mbps download available.“

All those definitions were assigned by the New York State Legislature.

The availability map drew from four data sources: 1) the New York State “Street and Address Maintenance (SAM) Program” for the location fabric; 2) data collected from ISPs; 3) a “Fiber Optic and Coaxial Asset Inventory Program;” and 4) input from the public and other stakeholders.

In a story about the new map, WGRZ Buffalo reported that some of the ISP data comes from the FCC’s Form 477 collection, which has been highly criticized and is still in the process of being revamped.

The PSC did field testing in some of the remotest areas to fact check the ISPs, but the station's consumer reporters said they clearly found some gaps in the numbers.

The PSC provided this caveat about the ISP numbers: “The information contained in this Map has, in part, been collected from ISPs operating in New York who were asked to provide reasonable representations of their respective internet service areas. Determining each ISP‘s service area without a field inspection verification of every address may yield discrete inaccuracies, and while the Department conducted field inspections in the most remote areas of the State of New York to corroborate information received from the various ISPs, it was not feasible to verify 100% of the addresses in the field.” ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.