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Gillibrand proposes legislation to boost rural broadband

Oct 14, 2016 1:30 pm

Katie Kocijanski is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media U.S Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand put forward new legislation Wed., Oct. 12, intended to aid in building the broadband infrastructure in rural areas across the state. The Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act would expand the resources available to create a high-speed broadband framework. The act includes a grant-loan combination financing program, as well. In a statement, Gillibrand said federal grants of up to 50 percent of a project's total cost would be awarded in conjunction with loan funding already available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Projects in remote, high-need areas could qualify for awards up to 75 percent of the total cost. "Reliable, fast internet access isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity in the 21st-century economy," Gillibrand said. Mark Evans, vice president of the Coxsackie-based to State Telephone Company, said any funding for broadband in rural areas is very welcome. "Broadband is a very capital-intensive issue and requires federal and state funding and support," said F. Michael Tucker, president and CEO of the Columbia Economic Development Corporation. Tucker said Gillibrand's new proposal nicely complements the state's new broadband plan. Read the full story in the Register-Star.