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Lawmakers save $170 million in upstate broadband funds

WASHINGTON -- More than $170 million in federal funds for rural broadband services will be coming to upstate New York thanks to a bipartisan effort to prevent it from being diverted to other states.

“This is huge news for rural communities all across Upstate New York," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who joined Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, in lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to keep the funds in upstate New York.

"We have tirelessly fought to keep this money in New York State and I am excited for Western New Yorkers that the FCC listened," Collins said.

The money was under threat because one of the national internet service providers that was allocated $170 million to expand service in Upstate New York did not accept the money it was allocated.

FCC officials considered taking this unspent money from the Connect America Fund and bidding it out among other states, but the lawmakers and Gov. Cuomo persuaded the agency to keep the money in New York State.

"These federal funds combined with additional state funds will give our rural communities in Upstate New York greater access to the resources they need to get online and stay competitive in our digital economy, and I was proud to fight for this investment,” Gillibrand said.

The federal funds will complement the $500 million New NY Broadband Program Cuomo announced in 2015.

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