‘Broadband for All’ Within Reason, It Seems

     (CN) — Rural New Yorkers are bringing a state agency to court, saying tax dollars meant to improve their internet access will serve a less worthy cause, subsidizing broadband providers and communities that are already well connected.
     Though the New York Legislature earmarked $500 million for a program to increase broadband access across underserved parts of the state, a complaint filed last week in Albany says Empire State Development lost the thread.
     Instead of helping “those communities that desperately need” broadband, the governor’s broadband office has allegedly made it a priority to make 100 megabytes per second (mbps) the minimum download speed across the state.
     Since “millions of New Yorkers lack any broadband access whatsoever,” the complaint sees this priority as shortsighted and contrary to legislative intent.
     The complaint says guidelines the ESD created this year for implementing the broadband grant were “designed to preclude applications for funding for
     unserved areas, particularly areas with a low-density population where the construction of relatively expensive infrastructure for broadband is not economically viable.””
     The ESD’s Broadband Program Office has received “very few applications … to provide broadband in unserved areas,” according to the complaint.
     Guidelines for the project give Dec. 31, 2018, as the implementation date.
     Plaintiffs include Fred Ruckel of Gilboa, Nancy Lawson of Feura Bush, Judith Elliot-Brown of Surprise, Lynne Cable of Clarksville and William Brina of Albany.
     One business also sued: 4750 Realty LLC of Mt. Kisco.
     They are represented by Peter Henner of Clarksville.
     A representative from Empire State Development said the agency does not comment on pending litigation. The Governor’s Broadband Program Office did not return a request for comment.

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