Local Residents Encouraged to Join ConnectALL Broadband Challenge Starting March 19

Empire State Development (ESD) is proud to announce the launch of the ConnectALL Office’s New York State Broadband Challenge Portal. Opening its doors to public comments, the portal serves as a vital tool in identifying areas eligible for new broadband service grants. Residents are invited to participate by conducting speed tests and suggesting eligibility based on the results. Additionally, internet service providers, government bodies, and nonprofits can register for the challenge process starting March 19.

ESD President Hope Knight emphasized the significance of the ConnectALL initiative, spearheaded by Governor Hochul, which aims to provide affordable high-speed internet to all New Yorkers. As part of ESD’s broader efforts to enhance internet access statewide, ConnectALL will also host webinars to assist users in navigating the challenge portal effectively.

While the Challenge Portal is accessible to the public, only formal entities can submit challenges to alter a location’s eligibility status, although the public can contribute speed tests and other relevant data for the formal challenge process.

ESD’s comprehensive review has identified over 95,000 locations lacking adequate internet service and thus eligible for inclusion in the ConnectALL Deployment Program. This figure represents less than two-thirds of the nearly 150,000 locations initially identified in the ConnectALL Five-Year Action Plan. The decrease can be attributed to a meticulous review of federal maps in collaboration with internet service providers and government agencies.

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To provide new broadband service to all identified locations, the ConnectALL Office estimates the associated costs to range between $650 million and $1 billion. This estimation aligns with the total funding available for the State’s Broadband Deployment Program, comprising a federal allocation of approximately $664.6 million and a state commitment of at least $50 million, in addition to a required 25% match from internet service providers. As the ConnectALL Office continues its map review and formal challenge process, the final number of locations may be subject to change. The ConnectALL Deployment Program Request for Applications is scheduled to open in June, marking a crucial step forward in bridging New York’s digital divide.

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