St. Lawrence County legislators continue work providing broadband to unserviced areas
BY JEFF CHUDZINSKI
North Country This Week
CANTON — St. Lawrence County legislators want to close the digital divide seen across the county and have taken steps to ensure high-speed broadband internet will soon be available to even the most remote residents.
Legislators passed a resolution during the full board meeting on Dec. 5 calling on the state to expedite the rollout of the ConnectALL Initiative.The Public Service Commission (PSC) was directed by the Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act of 2021 to study annually the availability, reliability and cost of high-speed broadband service. On June 16, 2022 PSC released an interactive map detailing broadband infrastructure throughout the state, showing St. Lawrence County was underserved by a significant margin with many areas being completely unserved.
According to the program’s website, “this initiative will deliver affordable internet access to millions of New Yorkers, bolster digital equity, and transform the state's digital infrastructure through new investments.”
Officials are now calling on the state to expedite the roll out of the grant programs, saying it “is of paramount importance to improving connectivity in the areas with the greatest need.”
Legislators say reliable, high-speed broadband is an essential and critical service required in St. Lawrence County to ensure residents can receive medical care, can work remotely, can continue their education and can connect with family and friends.
According to the resolution, broadband remains unaffordable for many New Yorkers who have service already available to them, despite Governor Hochul announcing the ConnectALL Initiative would help ensure broadband is more affordable for all residents.
Officials also called on the Empire State Development (ESD) to expedite the rollout of ConnectALL, encouraging the ESD to make grant applications available to local governments before the end of 2022.
Certified copies of the resolution were also forwarded to Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Joe Griffo, Senator Patty Ritchie, Senator Dan Stec, Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush, Assemblyman Billy Jones, Assemblyman Robert Smuller and Assemblyman Mark Walczyk.