An economic development agency is seeking federal funds to bring high-speed internet access to rural residents in parts of the Southern Tier.

The Southern Tier 8 Regional Board has applied for $22 million to connect 895 residential addresses to broadband service.

Agency executive director Jen Gregory said such access is "just about the most important piece of infrastructure" for the region to attract jobs and "enhance quality-of-life and overall opportunity."

The cost of providing high-speed internet service to the "hardest-to-connect" homes is substantial. This plan to offer additional access works out to more than $24,500 per address.

Gregory said Southern Tier 8 is working with three broadband providers in the effort to expand fiber broadband access.

Representatives of the providers said the cost to residential customers likely would be $60 to $80 a month.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is expected to announce its decision on the grant application by the end of this month.

The grant would be used to provide fiber broadband access to homes in the towns of Caroline, Coventry, Danby, German, Guilford, McDonough, Newfield, Oxford and Taylor.

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