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State Task Force Created To Address Poor Cell Service In Rural Upstate NY

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The new Upstate Cellular Coverage Task Force met for the first time on Tuesday (September 10), charged with developing potential solutions and policies to address the lack of cell service in remote parts of upstate New York.

Originally proposed as part of Governor Cuomo’s 2019 State of the State Address, the special committee held its first meeting on Tuesday (September 10) and is being administered through Empire State Development.

Included on the task force are industry experts, community leaders, government officials, environmental representatives, and other key stakeholders. It has also retained Alvarez & Marsal as an advisor. 

They’ll now work through existing policies and identify potential constraints and available resources/funding sources (including federal support), in order to develop implementable recommendations for enhancing cellular coverage in unserved areas.

“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 members of the Upstate Cellular Coverage Task Force are as follows:

  • Barbara Rice, Assistant Secretary for Economic Development, Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
  • Jeffrey Nordhaus, Executive Vice President, Innovation and Broadband, Empire State Development
  • Thomas Congdon, Deputy Commissioner, New York State Public Service Commission
  • William Farber, Chair, Board of Supervisors, Hamilton County
  • Chris Fisher, Advisor and Former President, New York State Wireless Association
  • David Hopkins, Director, E911, Steuben County
  • Jeff Senterman, Executive Director, Catskill Center
  • Dr. Satya Sharma, Executive Director, CeWIT, SUNY Stony Brook
  • Michael Sprague, Director, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
  • Rick Weber, Deputy Director, Planning, New York State Adirondack Park Agency
  • Betty Little*, New York State Senator
  • Jen Metzger*, New York State Senator
  • Rachel May*, New York State Senator Senate
  • Aileen M. Gunther*, New York State Assembly Member
  • Billy Jones*, New York State Assembly Member
  • Angelo Santabarbara, New York State Assembly Member

* Ex officio member

In 2015, the Governor launched the $500 million New NY Broadband Program to achieve statewide high-speed Internet access, which is expected to wire broadband to more than 99% of New Yorkers once fully implemented.

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