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New York lobs $210m at telcos to hook up 120k homes, businesses with bumpkin broadband

Funny story – Verizon didn't care until they were told other ISPs might do it

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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The US state of New York has unveiled a massive new project to provide broadband for virtually all of its residents.

Governor Andrew Cuomo said this week the project, known as New NY Broadband Round III, will enlist 43 telcos that will set up satellite broadband coverage in the most remote parts of the state. Said telcos will take home $210m.

For those unfamiliar with New York's geography, outside of New York City much of the state is fairly rural and spread out, meaning wired broadband networks are relatively expensive to install and maintain, particularly in areas with only a handful of paying customers. Essentially, ISPs can't be bothered running decent connectivity out into the sticks. It isn't worth their time, they claim.

To remedy that, Cuomo says the telcos will be paid to largely deploy satellite broadband networks. The satellite networks will pipe around 25Mbps per subscriber, short of the 100Mbps goal set for New York's city dwellers, but still meeting the watered-down federal government's definition of "broadband."

Phase III will be the final phase of the broadband plan the state kicked off in 2015. Phases I and II connected up about 98 per cent of the state, leaving only the most far-flung portions (122,285 homes and business, to be exact) left for this phase. So that's $1,709 per building.

Cuomo mentions that part of the funding actually came from money the FCC Connect America Fund had earmarked for a different project back in 2015. At the time, the Governor explained, Verizon was offered $170m to build in rural areas, but declined.

Instead, Cuomo said, New York opened the project up for bids with a territorial auction, allowing other providers to come in and stake a claim on the more remote parts of the Empire State. This was apparently enough to make Verizon interested and the telco stepped forward to provide service in 15,515 locations accounting for $70.7m of the total project spend.

"At Verizon, we don't wait for the future, we build it," gushed Leecia Eve, VP of state government affairs for the biz that turned down the project three years ago but is now suddenly interested because other ISPs are being offered money.

"This historic partnership will expand high-speed broadband access to thousands of New Yorkers and will better connect our communities."

Cuomo did not say when the build-out will be completed. ®

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