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Syracuse aims to expand affordable broadband program

The skyline in Syracuse, N.Y. in 2015.
Mike Groll
The skyline in Syracuse, N.Y. in 2015.

The city of Syracuse is looking to close the digital divide by expanding its community broadband program.

Surge Link currently serves neighborhoods in Brighton, the Near Westside and Southside — aiming to serve 2,500 households by the end of the year.

Jenn Tifft, director of strategic initiatives for the city of Syracuse, says with the expiration of the federal affordable connectivity program, Syracuse's broadband service, Surge Link, will be offered for $10 a month as an introductory rate.

"Let's just assume that the federal government does not put another affordable connectivity program in place, the only subsidy available for households for certainly or really frankly, for any of our Internet providers here is the local subsidy that we've decided to provide with some of our ARPA funds," Tifft said.

The city is applying for a state grant that would expand service to the Valley, Skunk City, Near Northeast, Washington Square neighborhoods, and a portion of the Northside serving an additional 4,700 households by 2026.

"The pilot was really framed as a service or a solution for lower-income families and this now becomes an opportunity for us to expand that so we can include all families," Tifft said. "I think we would look to price that in such a way where folks that can afford Internet will pay a higher rate that will ultimately help us to sustain the network for everyone. And ultimately, that's how we achieve really sustainability for the program where ARPA and other sources of funds dry up."

Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.