FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK, NY –– New Yorkers for 5G, a statewide coalition dedicated to educating elected officials, policymakers, and members of the public about the need for next-generation connectivity, today praised a new report issued by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli that recognizes the need to remove policy roadblocks currently preventing much-needed investments to bring fast, reliable online access to all corners of the state.
“The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has laid bare the challenges that many households are facing in securing a reliable internet connection and underscored that online access is a necessity, not a privilege,” said New Yorkers for 5G spokesperson Caitlin Brookner.
“We thank Comptroller DiNapoli for recognizing it is well past time for New York to remove the barriers preventing businesses, organizations and residents – rural and urban alike – from receiving the connectivity they need to succeed in the near term,” Brookner continued, “and also to lay the groundwork for next-generation connectivity that will keep the state competitive for years to come.”
The comptroller’s audit provides a comprehensive analysis on broadband status statewide, highlighting the inequalities in both access and affordability for rural and lower-income New Yorkers. The report suggests that next-generation connectivity in the form of 5G wireless technology “may be a promising ‘last mile’ solution in rural areas and calls on the state to assist the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in compiling data to inform its strategy for effectively allocating awards from the $9 billion 5G Fund for Rural America.
DiNapoli urged the state to craft a detailed strategy that can leverage federal funding provided under the American Rescue Plan and new funds that may be provided under the infrastructure bill currently before Congress.
The comptroller noted that while the state has invested considerable time, energy, and funding in expanding broadband access, it has also engaged in policies that “discouraged” the investment necessary to realize that goal. Most notably, he cited the state Department of Transportation fee on fiber in state rights-of-way (ROW) included in the 2019-20 state budget, which made some projects – especially those undertaken by smaller companies that operate on tight margins in rural areas – cost prohibitive, and in some cases impossible to undertake at all.
“Given the difficult market dynamics of wiring rural areas, the fees may have added to the challenge,” DiNapoli’s report concludes.
“We have long known that 5G will play a key role in the state’s future connectivity landscape,” Brookner said. “The Comptroller’s report makes clear that lawmakers must reconsider policies like the ROW fee to disincentivize investment to bring this cutting-edge technology to New Yorkers who need it. We stand ready to assist in realizing that goal, and we call on the Legislature and Governor Kathy Hochul to heed the Comptroller’s important recommendations.”
Learn more from the Comptroller’s full report here.
ABOUT NEW YORKERS FOR 5G
New Yorkers for 5G was formed to educate residents, businesses, and decision makers about the importance of next-generation connectivity and advocate for policies that facilitate its success around the state. Its members represent a diverse array of businesses, organizations and individuals from every corner of the Empire State. To learn more, visit NYersFor5G.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.