Yates County receives 5% of the total amount earmarked for the ReConnect grant program.

High speed internet service is closer to a reality for more Yates County residents now that the county has been awarded a $10.3 million USDA ReConnect grant to provide access directly to homes.

The grant, combined with a local share of $3.6 million, will finance the build out to about 20 areas all around Yates County where no other funding programs are aimed at providing services, explains Yates County Planner Dan Long.

He told legislators Dec. 17 that the project will provide access to a population of 3,253 individuals in 1,635 households and 322 businesses over approximately 80 square miles. “These areas were determined by a process of elimination of areas already receiving grant funds for build-out combined with available information from carriers, state agencies and other sources,” he explained in a memo to the legislature.

According to information released by USDA, the grant will enable the county to work with private sector companies to build broadband infrastructure in areas with internet service that is considered insufficient because the connection speeds are less than 10Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.

Legislator Timothy Cutler clarified that this grant will bring the service directly to homes and businesses within the covered areas. Property owners will be responsible for the cost of interior connections and monthly service fees with an Internet Service Provider.

“A lot of work went into this, and it will take a lot more work,” said District 2 Legislator Timothy Dennis, adding, “It’s a really significant grant. The consultant engineers did a fantastic job.”

Acting administrator Nonie Flynn pointed out that Yates County is one of only two counties in New York to receive the grant, and Yates will receive 5% of the total amount earmarked for the entire nation during the programs’ first round, when 143 municipalities applied.

In addition to the project that will be funded with this grant, Yates County officials are working with Southern Tier Network and other counties, yet to be named, to expand internet service in the region.