Universal Broadband. Deploying High Speed Internet Acces in NYS. New York State Association of Counties. Revised October Hon.

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1 Universal Broadband Deploying High Speed Internet Acces in NYS New York State Association of Counties Revised October 2015 Hon. Maggie Brooks President Stephen J. Acquario Executive Director Universal Broadband: Deploying High Speed Internet Access in NYS NYSAC October

2 Universal Broadband According to the Governor s Office, 7 million New Yorkers and 113,000 businesses cannot get access to broadband at 100 megabits per second (Mbps). This speed has been identified by economic developers as the minimum speed needed to attract businesses. Over 70 percent of Upstate New York falls below this threshold in the speed of internet service available. When individuals do not have sufficient Internet access, the economy suffers, and so does their quality of life. Parents are unable to access information on school websites, children are unable to do research and homework, jobseekers are unable to search online job postings, access civil service exams and other information, and businesses are unable to connect with potential customers and market their products. The following map is a staggering look at just how far New York is from providing quality internet to all communities. This map illustrates those areas in New York that currently lack 100 Mbps broadband access. Source: NYS Empire State Development Broadband Office The New NY Broadband Program: The Plan for New York The 2015/16 enacted state budget allocated $500 million for the New NY Broadband Program to incentivize the expansion of high-speed broadband access in unserved and underserved areas. Broadband providers and communities will utilize this funding to deliver service in a given area. The budget requires priority be given to public libraries and educational opportunity centers, and also requires a report on planned investments. The New York State Broadband office has indicated 2 NYSAC October 2015

3 that the program will provided 1:1 matching funds for broadband deployment into unserved and underserved areas at a minimum of 25 megabits per second (mbps) with a goal of 100 mbps. The program will also include an enhanced NYS Broadband Mapping Program, leveraging state-owned assets to enable a regional ground-up planning for deployment in coordinating with the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs). Release of New NY Broadband Program Request for Information On September 24, 2015, the Broadband Program Office released a Request for Information ( RFI ) to seek input from qualified parties to inform the preparation of guidelines for and structure of the New NY Broadband Program. The deadline to submit responses to the Request for Information is October 30, To view a full copy of the RFI, visit: https://www.nysbroadband.ny.gov/new-ny-rfi The goals of the RFI are to indentify: strategies for structuring and/or implementing the Program, and to stimulate interest in providing broadband access to all underserved and unserved areas of the State. ideas and/or recommendations on how to speed deployment of broadband infrastructure to meet New York State broadband goals and the proposed timeline. suggestions on how the State can leverage partnerships, utilize existing assets, coordinate broadband deployment with other infrastructure improvements, and/or take other steps to reduce broadband deployment costs. potential challenges and/or roadblocks related to the expansion of broadband access for underserved and unserved areas of New York State. information on potential technology solutions that might enable broadband access for underserved and unserved areas of New York State. regional considerations that might be relevant to the Program s ability to meet its goals. barriers that may prevent residents and/or businesses from taking advantage of the benefits of broadband service, including approaches to ensure all New Yorkers have access to broadband at reasonable costs. Once ESD processes responses to the RFI, they will issue a Program-related RFP or other competitive solicitation by early RFI questions, concerns and official responses may be ed to or mailed to: Angela Liotta, Deputy Director NYS Broadband Program Office 625 Broadway, 8th Floor Albany, NY Universal Broadband: Deploying High Speed Internet Access in NYS NYSAC October

4 Universal Broadband New York State Broadband Deployment Support and Resource Center The New York State Broadband Deployment Support and Resource Center is a web portal designed to facilitate broadband infrastructure expansion in New York State. https://portal.nysbroadband.ny.gov/ According to the website, the Broadband Deployment Support Center is a case management system for submitting, tracking, and supporting issues related to broadband deployment in New York State. Users can submit issues, which could cause delay or impact broadband infrastructure projects, in this central, convenient website, which will then be routed to the NYS Broadband Program Office and other relevant stakeholders. Through the Deployment Support Center users can also track inquiries, updates, and resolution; and easily view the status of submissions. The Broadband Deployment Resource Center is a central repository designed to ease the burden on broadband providers, municipalities, counties, and other leaders involved in expanding broadband access by enabling users to easily find documentation related to broadband expansion more quickly and efficiently. Users can easily search in the Resource Center to locate important and relevant broadband information they need, when they need it. The Resource Center is a living website that will be expanded and enhanced as new and revised resources are added. In addition to online viewing, the resources can be downloaded and printed by users to make it easy to review. County Input and Impact County Leaders Recognized During Third Annual Broadband Summit Several county leaders were recognized for outstanding leadership in their communities. These Broadband Champion Awards are given to high-achieving leaders working to expand broadband access across the state. Most Innovative The Town of Thurman, New York White Space Program Town of Thurman Supervisor Evelyn Wood was honored for her town s collaboration with Rainmaker Network Services and Frontier Communications. This project White Space technology to provide highspeed Internet to town residents and businesses. White Space technology was only recently licensed for use by the FCC. The town and its business partners managed to supply broadband service to a rural area without the need for construction of costly infrastructure. Collaboration Orleans Niagara Counties - the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance Legislator Lynne Johnson of Orleans County and Legislator David Godfrey of Niagara County spearheaded a multi-county, cross-regional initiative to expand broadband coverage into lower population density areas in their counties. Forming the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance (NORA), Legislator Johnson and Legislator Godfrey provided leadership and conducted stakeholder outreach to build support for the project across multiple municipalities. This effort helped to attract a service provider to the two Western New York counties. 4 NYSAC October 2015

5 NYSAC Hosts Broadband Webinar The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) sponsored a New NY Broadband Program webinar on May 5, 2015 featuring David Salway, Executive Director of the NYS Broadband Program Office. The PowerPoint used at the Webinar can be found on NYSAC s website at The webinar focused on the roles that counties and municipalities will play as the New NY Broadband Program goes forward. Discussion also centered on how best to position communities for funding when program requirements become available. The webinar discussed the importance of regional plans and the Regional Economic Development Councils as the program is rolled-out. As the program is deployed, information from the enhanced NYS Broadband Mapping Program and the Inventory Asset Project (fiber, conduits, poles, and land) will be available. Regions may also be able to leverage state-owned fiber and other assets such as conduits and land. Importance of Continued Local Input NYSAC urges the state to include local input in the planning process in any broadband expansion program. Local input will ensure that communities themselves identify those areas most in need and most suitable for expansion. County officials as well as county and regional planners, economic developers and business group representatives should have extensive involvement into these plans in order to provide insight into community needs, areas of anticipated growth and business expansion, and other relevant local information. In many cases, counties have already expended local funds to pay for studies to survey vertical assets, analyze coverage, and provide a detailed plan for how to roll out community broadband expansion. These efforts should not be duplicated in any future broadband plans. The State should ensure existing studies and plans be leveraged and made a part of future expansion efforts. Expenditures made by local governments to procure these studies and plans should be counted toward the 1:1 match for the New NY Broadband funds. The New NY Broadband Program envisions the REDCs provide local and regional input into broadband planning. While a regional perspective is important, it is essential that all communities that may be pursuing different funding sources for their broadband projects be brought together under a coordinated umbrella in order to achieve the highest scoring from those evaluating funding applications. Some communities may be looking at USDA loan funds, available at a low interest rate, in order to finance their broadband projects. As communities work with different vendors and providers, it is imperative to ensure collaboration and coordination as a system is constructed that can provide all communities with broadband coverage. Coordinate Efforts with Regional Planning Another important feature of the proposed New NY Broadband Program is a streamlining of Universal Broadband: Deploying High Speed Internet Access in NYS NYSAC October

6 Universal Broadband the permitting processes to ensure ease of infrastructure installation. For in-ground assets, digonce and make-ready policies can take advantage of opportunities to install infrastructure in unserved areas. Connecting existing State and local assets is also important, to build on current infrastructure and leveraging fiber, towers and backhaul. Many internet providers propose wireless solutions for communities that require access to space on existing towers. Counties own public safety and other communication towers that may have space that is available to contribute for community broadband expansion purposes. The local contribution of these assets should be eligible as part of the 1:1 local match for the New NY Broadband funds. Efforts to expand broadband infrastructure must coordinate with local planning designs and efforts, tower construction and expansion, highway paving projects, and other efforts to minimize installation costs and get the most extensive network possible. County and local planning units should serve a coordinating role to ensure private providers who receive state funding to expand broadband coverage are working strategically to take advantage of opportunities to set up infrastructure in areas where it is most suitable and opportune. It is also important to note the difference between connecting infrastructure versus providing service delivery. Installing infrastructure is the first part in providing broadband, but the last piece of the puzzle is connecting each home and business. Service planning efforts should ensure that the last mile, and in many cases, last 100 feet, is contemplated in each plan. Finding Local Funding to Front the Costs of System Expansion In all of the proposed funding mechanisms available to local governments, The Smart School Bond Act and the New NY Broadband Program, funds would be made available as a reimbursement. This means, in the case of a local government led effort, the government must come up with the money up front and then apply to get reimbursed. This puts local governments at a financial hardship to come up with an enormous amount of capital. Under a property tax cap, counties do not have the ability to raise these funds locally. Counties that have already begun local broadband expansion projects issued revenue anticipation notes and bonds in order to have the cash to finance projects. The New NY Broadband Program should be structured for local government applicants to be able to draw down funding up front to pay for system costs. Without funding up front many communities will not be able to afford such projects. If a reimbursement program is put in place, reimbursement timeframes should be swift in order to minimize any fiscal strain on local governments. The cost of building a statewide broadband network is not just realized in the infrastructure and construction phase. It is also important to dedicate time and money in the planning and development phases to provide legal support, system engineering and business design expertise. Special counsel is often needed to negotiate contracts between providers and local governments, protect critical assets, and engage experts with extensive knowledge of communications systems. State funding must be made available to coordinate all parts of system planning needs to be contemplated in the New NY Broadband Program. 6 NYSAC October 2015

7 Allow Smart Schools Bond Act Funding to be Leveraged for the 1:1 Match The proposed New NY Broadband Program requires a 1:1 match from entities requesting funding under the program. In many cases, schools and other local governments may be the applicants to this program as they may intend to build and own the infrastructure to provide broadband in their community. Proposition 3, known as the Smart Schools Bond Act, approved by the voters in the 2014 elections, authorizes the state comptroller to issue and sell bonds up to the amount of $2 billion. The revenue received from the sale of these bonds are, among other things, to be used for projects related to purchasing educational technology equipment and facilities, such as interactive whiteboards, computer servers, desktop and laptop computers, tablets and high-speed broadband or wireless internet. NYSAC urges the State to allow this funding to be leveraged as a component of the match requirement under The New NY Broadband Program. Ensure Local Participation into the Grant Evaluation Process The New York State Broadband Office s Broadband Taskforce should include local representation. County government perspective is essential to bring a local voice to the statewide oversight of both the New NY Broadband Program and all subsequent application processes, guidelines, rules and funding opportunities. Counties are important stakeholders in the deployment of statewide broadband as well as critical partners in the realization of statewide broadband coverage to every New York resident and business. Ensure Ongoing Access is Affordable Ensuring universal broadband availability is the biggest and most crucial first step. Once coverage is established, ongoing issues include making internet access affordable to the whole population. Keeping residential access reasonably priced once a system is built ensures all citizens can take full advantage of this service. Many urban areas have broadband coverage, but access is not felt uniformly among all citizens due to income inequality and technological disparities. This is an ongoing issue to be addressed in any broadband plan, to ensure students, job seekers, and people from all walks of life are able to access the internet. As RFPs are issued, providers should be required to provide financially stable and competitive pricing, commensurate with comparable market rates. Planning Funding for Future Upgrades Owners of broadband infrastructure will have ongoing costs to maintain and upgrade infrastructure in the years ahead. Funding for the New NY Broadband Program should be allocated to create a self-sustaining funding source for communities to leverage as they plan for future investments. A community wishing to go from 25mbps to 100mbps internet speeds will need to make major investments in their system. As technologies change and communities grow, planning for future communications infrastructure needs is imperative to maintaining a cuttingedge system. Universal Broadband: Deploying High Speed Internet Access in NYS NYSAC October

8 The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public. October New York State Association of Counties

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