Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D-Dutchess/Columbia) is calling on the Office of the New York State Comptroller to audit broadband service providers across New York State. Barrett has sent a letter to Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli requesting that his office evaluate broadband providers’ compliance with agreements requiring them to provide high-speed internet access to communities statewide.
“From completing schoolwork to paying bills to applying for jobs, having fast and reliable internet service is absolutely essential in 2019,” Barrett said. “Deadlines for the governor’s Broadband for All initiative has passed, and yet, too many homes in the area are still without adequate service. I’m asking Comptroller DiNapoli to take a look at how broadband providers across the state are working to find a solution and bring all New York households into the 21st century.”
The Broadband for All initiative, implemented in 2015, invested $500 million to expand broadband access and bring high-speed internet to unserved and underserved parts of New York State by 2018. While much progress was made under that program, Barrett still receives regular calls from residents, businesses and local officials in her district who don’t have access to high-speed broadband. Providers that have received state grants need to be transparent so New Yorkers know if they’re meeting requirements, Barrett noted.
The 2020 Census is just over the horizon, and the federal government has placed an increased emphasis on online forms, which will only create barriers in rural areas that don’t have adequate internet service, noted Barrett. Census data is used to help determine a wide range of decisions, including the allocation of funding, legislative redistricting and congressional representation.
“New York State will be at a severe disadvantage come next year if thousands of people can’t get online to fill out census forms,” Barrett said. “We must act now to hold broadband providers accountable, identify the gaps in service across the state and show New Yorkers that we’re doing everything we can to bring them this essential service.”