On Thursday, the FCC voted to provide up to $170 million from the Connect America Fund to expand broadband deployment in unserved rural areas of New York State.

The $170 million will be combined with at least $200 million in state funding and private investment. The order adopted by the Commission will authorize Connect America Phase II support in areas where applicants are selected through the New NY Broadband Program, subject to specified conditions “to ensure broad participation and ongoing oversight,” according to a statement released by the FCC.

“Broadband is critical to economic opportunity and job creation,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says. “This is a first step of many to fulfill my promise to empower Americans with online opportunities, no matter who they are and no matter where they live.”

The American Cable Association applauded the approval of New York State's petition for a waiver to access Connect America Fund support.

"ACA appreciates the diligent review conducted and balanced decision reached by the FCC in approving New York State's petition for a waiver to access Connect America Fund support,” ACA President and CEO Matthew M. Polka says. “New York has one-upped the FCC by instituting a program to bring broadband service with performance capabilities that exceed those required by the FCC to unserved areas while ensuring government money is used efficiently and accountably. Moreover, New York is chipping in substantial additional funding.”

Polka adds that he thinks the “forward-looking approach, which greatly benefits New York residents, businesses, and communities, should be rewarded.” He goes on to suggest that as long as requirements are met, the FCC should permit other states in partnering in the Connect America Fund program.

Chairman Pai underlined his concern about the digital divide in the United States on Tuesday in a speech he gave before the FCC staff. “One of the most significant things that I’ve seen during my time here is that there is a digital divide in this country − between those who can use cutting-edge communications services and those who do not … We must work to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans,” Pai says. A transcript of his remarks is here.