Schumer pushes for rural broadband (video)

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WURTSBORO – The pandemic has demonstrated the need for universal broadband Internet service, something that is lacking in many rural areas of Sullivan County.

County officials have been working to alleviate that problem and now U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, in Wurtsboro on Wednesday, added his name to the effort.

“Franklin Roosevelt in the 30s said electricity was a necessity and he established the REA and it wired up every home,” he said. “we believe in the 21st-century broadband is a necessity, and we want every home to get it. And there are two groups that don’t have it – rural, a lot of that in the Hudson Valley, but also people who can’t afford it, because it is expensive,” he said.

County Manager Josh Potosek noted the pandemic has brought the need for the service to the forefront.

“Anything from telemedicine with people being shuttered at home not being able to get to a doctor was very difficult in our county. School children getting packets of information home because they couldn’t have face-to-face instruction through a ZOOM or a school district, and a lot of our economic development partners looking at trying to attract some of the flight from the tri-state area for both housing and development for businesses,” he said.

Sullivan County has applied for $2 million in federal funds to cover 60 percent of the county with broadband service.

Ulster County Executive Patrick Ryan said his county, too, faces pockets of broadband insecurity.