broadbandThe state of New York this week awarded nearly $212 million in funding to bring broadband to parts of the state where service is not available today or is only available at low speeds. The broadband funding awarded went to 26 companies, including cable companies, municipal networks, and cooperatives, as well as to traditional telecom companies including FairPoint Communications, Frontier Communications, and TDS Telecom.

Awards were made in phase two of the New NY Broadband Program. Funding recipients also must contribute some funding of their own, yielding total anticipated investment of more than $268 million.

New NY Broadband is an ambitious program announced in 2015 that allocated $500 million to make broadband available throughout the state. Except in the most rural areas, operators are required to deploy service supporting speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream. For the most rural areas, the minimum speed target is 25 Mbps downstream.

Broadband Funding Awarded
The biggest winner in round two announced this week was Armstrong Telecommunications, which was granted nearly $48 million toward the cost of bringing service to 16,545 locations. Following Armstrong were FairPoint ($36.7 million), Frontier ($29.9 million), New Visions Communications ($11.3 million) and TDS ($11.1 million).

Phase three of the New NY Broadband program will receive as much as an additional $170 million as the result of a decision made by the FCC in late January. The commission previously offered funding in that amount to Verizon in the Connect America Program to bring broadband to parts of the carrier’s New York local service territory where broadband is not available, but Verizon did not accept the funding.

The $170 million had been earmarked for a broader auction that will award funding rejected by Verizon and other large price cap carriers in 20 states. But the state of New York asked that the funding be combined with the New NY Broadband program and awarded through that program. The state argued that this approach would be more efficient and would enable broadband deployments to get underway sooner.

Network operators in other states targeted for the CAF auction were not happy with that decision, however. They argued that as a result, New York network operators may get a higher percentage of total CAF auction funding than they would have received if New York had remained in the nationwide auction.

The reason is that the nationwide auction plans call for funding to go to the carriers that agree to deploy service in an area at the lowest percentage of the support level originally offered to the price cap carrier. That would mean that if New York network operators were not among the lowest bidders nationwide, some of the funding initially earmarked for that state would have gone instead to other states.

Although several other states also have expressed interest in having CAF auction funding released to them, it appears that New York will be an isolated case. In making the New York decision, the FCC noted that the state was “uniquely situated to quickly and efficiently further our goal of broadband deployment.”

A complete list of New NY Broadband phase two grant winners can be found on the New NY Broadband website.

Image courtesy of flickr user Sean MacEntee.