BUFFALO, N.Y. — In May 2022 the City of Buffalo released a broadband study that was produced by ECC Technologies. The city used $67,000 of CARES Act funding for the study.
The study concluded with short-term, medium-term, and long-term recommendations for the city to follow in order to close the digital gap in Buffalo.
Ten months later, the city hasn't made meaningful progress in adopting any of those recommendations.
Short-term goals included promoting the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal program that allows eligible households to receive a $30/month discount on internet service.
Additionally, short-term goals included forming a broadband committee, hiring a broadband champion, and creating a fund for low-income housing residents to receive additional financial support for broadband and digital tools.
A city of Buffalo spokesperson has confirmed that a broadband champion has not been hired.
The city claims to have formed a broadband committee.
However a city spokesperson would not confirm any of the members of the committee, nor would they confirm when the committee would actually meet.
In mid-February, the spokesperson said the committee would meet by the end of the month.
Additionally, a city spokesperson would not
The city also hasn't had any formal promotion of the Affordable Connectivity Program. Recent data, December 2022, from the FCC indicates that over 54,000 households in Buffalo are using the program. However, given the very flexible eligibility requirements for the program, more households could benefit from the city promoting the program.
There also hasn't been any formal announcement of a fund created by the city to provide additional assistance for broadband access and digital tools.
The study cited the cost of broadband access is one of the largest burdens for Buffalo residents. The majority of the city only has Spectrum as an available carrier. Greenlight Networks, however, has been slowly expanding for several years on the west side. Verizon recently confirmed to WGRZ that they are expanding FiOS, mostly in the northern part of the city.
Medium-term goals in the report included "welcoming 5G carriers" to the city, which sources say some conversations are happening but have been slow.
Additional medium goals include adopting a "dig once" policy, providing easy access to the right of ways, streamlining permitting, and easier access to underground infrastructure.
The city hasn't adopted a "dig once" policy, and there don't appear to be any changes to permitting, right-of-way access, or underground access. One telecommunications source told 2 On Your Side that the process is "just as slow as ever."
As for long-term goals, the report suggested the city tap into the proposed ErieNET project and look at developing a municipal broadband system.
2 On Your Side has been told there have been very preliminary conversations with between the city and county regarding an ErieNET partnership, but it's unclear how far those discussions have gone.