New York says 97% of the state has broadband – here’s where the gaps remain

A new report released by the New York State Public Service Commission reveals more than a quarter of addresses in Cattaraugus, Hamilton and Lewis Counties lack access to broadband, making them outliers in a state which has an overall coverage rate of 97.4%.

The assessment is the first put out by officials as required by the state’s Comprehensive Broadband Connectivity Act of 2021. It classifies and maps each primary address there as served, underserved or unserved based on whether there is access to fixed or fixed wireless service offering speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream and 10 Mbps upstream. Underserved addresses are those either with access to fewer than two providers or download speeds of between 25 Mbps and 100 Mbps, while unserved locations are those with no providers offering speeds of at least 25 Mbps.

A total of 15 of New York’s 62 counties had coverage rates of 99%, and 36 counties had coverage rates of more than 95%. But 26 counties had less than 95% of their addresses covered, with 11 of those posting coverage rates of less than 90%. The aforementioned trio of counties had the lowest percentages of served addresses, with 74.5%, 70.2% and 73%, respectively.

In terms of the absolute number of unserved locations, Cattaraugus County topped the list with 8,715. It was followed by Suffolk (5,579), Steuben (5,237), Otsego (4,595) and Lewis (4,589) counties. All told, the state’s data showed more than 140,000 locations remain unserved.

"With this mapping in hand, we can see where to direct State and Federal broadband funding to connect unserved and underserved areas,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “This address-specific tool is one we can wield to provide a more accurate depiction of connectivity needs in areas that have been disconnected for far too long."

The report’s release comes as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) works to update its U.S. broadband coverage map so it can be used to effectively target federal funding where it is needed. Like other states, New York is set to get at least $100 million from the federal government to help spur broadband deployments. 

But New York isn’t the only state mapping its own coverage while the FCC’s effort plods along. Among others, Texas earlier this month announced plans to develop a statewide broadband map by January 2023.


The New York report also examined affordability, separating counties into different categories based on median income. For the 16 counties with a media income between $41,895 and $54,883, the average cost of service was $60.73 and the average speed was 177.16 Mbps. According to the report, speeds climbed and prices dropped the higher the median income.

So, for instance, in the 30 counties with a median income of $54,884 to $65,306, the average cost of service was $59.38 and the average speeds rose to 204.98 Mbps. And the 16 counties in the highest income bracket ($65,307 - $120,036) had average speeds of 22.69 Mbps at an average cost of $46.80. The county with the highest average price was Essex ($89.51) followed by St. Lawrence ($87.94) and Jefferson ($86.63).

“While many New Yorkers have broadband available to them, for some it remains unaffordable,” the report noted. In addition to ramping promotion of the FCC’s Affordability Connectivity Program, it recommended state officials “consider strategies to expand broadband assistance to those not eligible for either the FCC’s ACP discount or the ISP provided low-income offerings.”

As of June 13, 2022, 878,816 households in New York State had signed up for the $30 per month ACP broadband subsidy.