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Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Gov. Andrew Cuomo intends to turn this map blue by 2018. Lockport business owner — and Town Supervisor — Marc Smith announced his support for the plan today. (FILE PHOTO / CONTRIBUTED)


ALBANY — Nearly 100 businesses across New York State have signed on in support of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's call for faster more reliable broadband Internet.

The governor's office says that broadband plays a crucial role in supporting economic activity in both rural and urban communities, and New York’s competitiveness and overall business climate would be dramatically improved by the implementation of the #Broadband4All campaign.

"Access to broadband is critical for businesses to compete and succeed in the global marketplace," Governor Cuomo said. "That's why we need to make a bold investment to strengthen New York's tech infrastructure. Our proposal will transform the landscape of broadband access for all New Yorkers, and I urge the legislature to join us in making it a reality this year."

Nationwide, the amount of annual e-commerce sales from web-only merchants grew from approximately $9.72 billion in 2003 to nearly $106 billion in 2013. It is also closely linked to job creation – regardless of industry, broadband is considered responsible for 43 percent of all new jobs created by businesses across the country since 2013.

One of the 95 businesses to offer their support for the governor's proposal is AM Smith Insurance, owned by Town of Lockport Supervisor Marc Smith.

The Republican is reaching across the aisle on the issue because as a business owner, he relies on broadband Internet — and as town supervisor, he's reminded that other businesses do, too.

According to the governor's office, more than 4,000 businesses statewide cannot get access to broadband at the state’s previously established minimum speed standards of 6 Mbps download and 1.5 Mbps upload – speeds that are already too slow. This fact holds true for 3 percent of Niagara County residents. Additionally, 113,000 businesses across the state cannot get access to broadband at 100 Mbps — the minimum speed a 2014 survey of economic developers said was needed to attract and grow businesses. This includes 70 percent of Upstate New Yorkers and all of Niagara County, according to the governor's office.

"I keep hearing from business owners — even people in the city — that there's issues with reliable broadband," Smith said.

"If I didn't have a connection, I might as well close the doors," Smith said this afternoon, explaining that nearly 90 percent of his business now gets conducted over the internet. "It's becoming more and more depending on that connection."

Smith's Woodhaven Drive home also has a decent high-speed connection. But some of his neighbors go without.

"I know just a little further out ... the high speed connection ends," he said. "There's huge gaps even in the town of Lockport."

Of course, those gaps get wider and more prevalent the further East Niagara residents get from Lockport — especially in areas like Appleton and Barker.

Gov. Cuomo launched the #Broadband4All campaign last week to rally support for his New NY Broadband Program proposal, which will help meet the goal of ensuring that every New Yorker has access to high-speed Internet service by the end of 2018. Since then, more than 30 health care organizations and related groups have announced their support. The Governor’s administration also launched, which encourages New Yorkers to become involved and provides more information on the proposal and its importance.

The plan calls for the state to invest $500 million to jumpstart the New NY Broadband Program utilizing capital funds from bank settlements to incentivize the private sector to expand high-speed broadband access in underserved and unserved areas. It also calls for matching funds from broadband providers and will require them to offer nearly universal 100 Mbps service.


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