ALBANY — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Tuesday announced the new Upstate Cellular Coverage Task Force, which will develop potential solutions and policies to address the lack of cell service in rural and remote parts of upstate New York.
The task force, which the Governor originally proposed as part of the 2019 State of the State, will be administered by Empire State Development.
"Every New Yorker should be able to access a stable cell connection, yet our upstate regions have struggled for too long to make the connections that are vital to everyday life and commerce," Governor Cuomo said. "Today we're leading the way forward by establishing a task force of cellular service experts, elected representatives and environmental advocates who will develop concrete policies and help to ensure service is provided and infrastructure for it is built in a sustainable way."
The task force consists of industry experts, community leaders, government officials, environmental representatives, and other key stakeholders and has retained Alvarez & Marsal as an advisor. The first meeting of the task force was Tuesday.
"All New Yorkers should have reliable cellular service, and this new task force will work to find solutions to fill existing gaps," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Residents and businesses in upstate communities and rural areas still face challenges with cell service, and we want to make sure to address those issues once and for all. We are committed to modernizing 21st century infrastructure to expand coverage and strengthen the economy."
The lack of upstate cellular network coverage undermines economic growth, impacts communications and safety, and inhibits adoption of smart municipal infrastructure. In the Adirondack Park Region and other rural upstate areas with large coverage gaps, the issue of cellular deployment has been a major local concern. The Task Force will review existing policies, potential constraints, and available resources and funding sources including federal support, to develop implementable recommendations for enhancing cellular coverage in unserved areas including the Adirondacks and Catskills.
New York State has made historic investments in infrastructure and broadband availability. In 2015, the Governor launched the $500 million New NY Broadband Program to achieve statewide high-speed Internet access. After full implementation of the program, more than 99 percent of New Yorkers will have access to wired broadband, the state said.
Locally, Armstrong, based in Addison, has secured contracts to expand broadband throughout the area.