Collins and FCC Commissioner O’Rielly Host Rural Broadband Roundtable
Written by WBTA STAFF on April 21, 2018
Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly today met with local elected officials to discuss the lack of high-speed internet in rural communities across New York’s 27th Congressional District.
“I thank Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, a Lockport native, for coming to my district to discuss the FCC initiatives that will help provide our communities with increased broadband capabilities,” said Collins. “This day in age, the lack of access to broadband we see in Western New York is astonishing. We must make sure our rural communities have the resources they need to run a business, complete an education, or simply shop online. Government officials and the private sector must work collaboratively in order to remove the regulatory barriers that are standing in the way of increased access.”
“I appreciated hearing directly from New York lawmakers about the need for broadband throughout the state of New York,” said O’Rielly. “Last year, New York received up to $170.4 million from the FCC Universal Service Fund to ensure the entire state was connected. I will be monitoring how this buildout process advances and expect state leaders are able to deliver on the promises it made when it took this funding.”
Collins’ district is 65% underserved by high-speed internet, with 3% completely unserved. This is largely due to burdensome regulations on internet service providers that deter them from expanding service to rural areas.
Throughout his time in Congress, Collins has worked to correct discrepancies in current law to make sure companies who build the groundwork to provide everyday Americans with internet service are able to continue expansion. O’Rielly will continue to provide the necessary oversight to make sure state lawmakers are properly utilizing funding and taking action to expand broadband access.
“In March of 2012, the Niagara-Orleans Regional Alliance (NORA) initiated a project to bring high-speed, reliable, and affordable Internet to every home across our two counties,” said Lynne M. Johnson, Chairman Orleans County Legislature and David E. Godfrey, Chairman Niagara County Public Safety Committee. “By the end of 2017, the Governor’s New York State Broadband Program office distributed ½ billion dollars to qualified Internet vendors, with the promise to deliver that service to nearly 99% of the residents across both counties. NORA will continue to stand guard to ensure the vendors keep their commitment to cover our most rural areas. Through the vigilant efforts of Congressman Collins and Commissioner O’Rielly, and the additional federal funding they have work so diligently to secure, our taxpayers will finally cross the threshold into the 21st century. Our fight will not be over until the last house with the last child gets the Internet service they not only need but deserve.”
“The GLOW counties appreciate the outreach and efforts by our partners in the federal government , Congressman Collins and Commissioner O’Rielly, to help us achieve a close to 98% rural broadband reality that leverages public and private resources to deliver reliable and 21st century internet speed to some of our hardest to serve areas,” said Jay Gsell, Genesee County Manager. “While said ‘Last Mile’ residents and businesses are ready and waiting for the extension of high speed internet to their ‘Front Door,’ getting there has been an ongoing struggle. Hopefully the combined efforts of our local governments, federal partners, state government and the private sector internet providers will get us to the finish line.”
“Rural broadband expansion is a big issue for our residents,” said Ian M. Coyle, County Administrator. The notion that the state, and this county, is 100% covered is a misnomer and we need additional deployments and resource expansion into our persistently underserved and unserved areas.”