Wednesday, November 11, 2009

NYC Council holds Net Neutrality Hearing - 11/20/2009

NYC In Feb. 2007 members of the NYC Council Committee on Technology in Government introduced Resolution 712, calling on the federal government to pass net neutrality legislation, an unlikely prospect at the time. Now, with fresh faces in Washington, the FCC has taken up the cause, establishing the six principles of net neutrality. A new bill H.R. 3458 aka the 'Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009' was introduced in Congress, and is currently before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. For their part, Republicans have come up with two opposing bills.

The NYC Resolution has, in recognition of this, been appropriately amended as Res. No. 712-A, and a hearing has been scheduled for November 20 at City Hall. The FCC has made a request for public comment on this matter and the Committee on Technology in Government will draw from the hearing's testimonies to draft a letter that includes citywide input.

WHAT: Public Hearing on Net Neutrality
WHEN: 10am, Friday, November 20, 2009
WHERE: Committee Room, City Hall, NYC

If you want to attend and/or testify at this hearing, please contact Kunal Malhotra, Legislative and Budget Director, at or Samuel Wong, Legislative Aide on Technology, at Both are reachable at their City Hall Office at (212) 788-6975.

We expect this hearing to be webcast live, and will also videotape for later, better quality, viewing.

Developments can be followed at and via the hashtag #reso712A.

Proposed Res. No. 712-A

Resolution calling upon the United States Congress to pass H.R. 3458 and the Federal Communications Commission to formalize strong network neutrality principles in order to ensure that the Internet will continue to foster innovation, increase competition, and spur economic growth as well as making the Internet faster and more affordable for all.

By Council Members Brewer, Fidler, Gerson, James, Liu, Sanders Jr. and de Blasio
Whereas, "Network neutrality" has been defined as the principle of an open and free Internet that fosters competition and innovation among service and content providers and offers consumers access to the content and services of their choice; and
Whereas, In the past, network providers have delivered data over the Internet on a "best efforts" basis, without creating different levels of quality of service based upon amounts paid by content providers; and
Whereas, With growth of the Internet and the increased demand for more broadband video, data, and telephone service, infrastructure network executives have indicated the likelihood that content providers will be charged more for faster data/content delivery, in part, to offset the cost of new high-speed lines; and
Whereas, Many are concerned that charging for services will lead to a type of Internet "toll road" where an individual's access to locations on the Internet will be faster to the websites of those content providers who pay a higher price to the network owner; and
Whereas, Without network neutrality, smaller companies and individuals will be unable to afford premium network access which will thus, hurt competition and the innovation that has been the hallmark of the Internet to date; and
Whereas, In 2005, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a policy statement that outlined four principles to preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the Internet; and
Whereas, The FCC statement declared that consumers are entitled to access to the Internet content of their choice, to run applications and services of their choice, and to enjoy all possible benefits of competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers; and
Whereas, While these principles guide FCC policymaking, they do not impose any enforcement power and are not a clear endorsement for net neutrality; and
Whereas, In July 2009, Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 (H.R. 3458), which amends the Communications Act of 1934 in order to set policy regarding various aspects of the Internet, including access, consumer choice, competition, ability to use or offer content, applications, and services, discriminatory favoritism, and capacity; and
Whereas, In addition, in September 2009, Julius Genachowski, the current FCC chairman, proposed expanding the principles and creating formalized rules that explicitly extend to wireless networks; and
Whereas, In opposition to these proposals, Senator John McCain introduced legislation called the "Internet Freedom Act" that would eliminate the FCC's ability to "propose, promulgate, or issue any regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services"; and
Whereas, The future of the Internet, thus, remains in jeopardy until the FCC promulgates meaningful, enforceable protections for network neutrality; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Council of the City of New York calls upon the United States Congress to pass H.R. 3458 and the Federal Communications Commission to formalize strong network neutrality principles in order to ensure that the Internet will continue to foster innovation, increase competition, and spur economic growth as well as making the Internet faster and more affordable for all.

LS 2063/2006

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Friday, July 31, 2009

NYC Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Video

With the deadline for applications for the first round of grants from the $7.2bn set aside for broadband adoption projects in President Obama’s stimulus plan rapidly approaching (Aug14), members of many of NYC communities met to discuss how best to achieve results. Representatives of the City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DOITT) poured cold water on many aspirations stating that most, if not all, the cash would go to rural projects. Despite this many declared it their intention to apply.

Audio & Video below. A listserv has been set up for further conversation. Twitter: #nycbtop

Video/audio is below:


Downloadable video will follow:


00:00 Gale A. Brewer - NYC City Council
03:38 David Birdsell - Dean of Baruch School of Public Policy
07:40 Joshua Breitbart - People's Production House
10:21 Elvin Rogers - Fair Time for Learning
12:04 Dave Pentecost - LES Girls Club
14:51 Adam Black - Share The Access
16:13 Eran Bello - Runcom Technologies (WiMax)
16:56 Thomas Camber - O.A.T.S.
18:35 Audrey Duncan - Bronxnet
19:28 Darada Davis - Peace Love Cafe
21:13 Dennis Ailane - Harlem Consumer Education Council
22:30 Renee Giordano - Sunset Park BID
24:19 Bruce Lincoln - Center for Technology Innovation & Community Engagement
27:43 Mitchel Albarn - DOITT
34:42 Darcy Gerbarg - Columbia Institute for Tele-Information
38:25 Dave Pentecost - LES Girls Club
40:15 Lou Klepner - Community Fiber Project :
44:42 Dana Spiegel - NYC Wireless
49:13 Kristine Rivera - Perscholas
50:47 Adam Black - Share The Access
52:08 Mario Bodden - SoBro
54:29 Joshua Breitbart - People's Production House
56:06 Maria Pagano - AT&T
58:53 John Weaver - Liberty Imaging
1:03:27 Henry Quiero - HITN
1:05:04 Dave Elcock - Mt. Hope Housing Co.
1:07:30 Mark Belinsky - Digital Democracy: Director
1:10:02 Alamelu Narayanaswamy - Community Programmer, MNN
1:11:04 Dimas.DeJesus - LISTA Latinos Information Science and Technology Association
1:13:01 Karen Gourgey - Baruch College Computer for the Visually Impaired
1:14:20 David Birdsell - Dean of Baruch School of Public Policy
1:17:40 Joshua Breitbart - People's Production House
1:18:04 Dave Pentecost - LES Girls Club
1:21:04 Dennis Ailane - Harlem Consumer Education Council
1:25:19 Michelle Pichardo - Institute of Family Health
1:28:01 Conclusion

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

NYC Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Funding Meeting

On Tuesday, July 28, 2009 from 6-8 PM at DCTV’s Third Floor Conference Room (located at 87 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10013) Council Member Gale A. Brewer invites all members of the New York City technology community to discuss the recently released Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funding that has been made available through the federal stimulus package which passed in February 2009. The purpose of this event is to help galvanize interested applicants around common goals. Please distribute this invitation widely and invite all pertinent stakeholders to attend.

Please contact Kunal Malhotra [] or Sam Wong [] at (212) 788-6975 if you have any questions and suggestions.

From Council Member Gale A. Brewer

July 24, 2009

Dear Friend,

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was enacted
by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on
February 17, 2009, to stimulate the national economy and invigorate
neglected industries that directly affect the nation’s competitive
edge. Included in this stimulus package is the $7.2 billion Broadband
Technology Opportunities Program, also known as BTOP. The National
Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) released
rules (also known as notice of funds availability, NOFA) for the BTOP
governing process July 1, 2009.

In an effort to involve the entire technology and not-for-profit
community, I would like to encourage your participation in a meeting
on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 6 PM. At this meeting, we would like to
work with a number of organizations to connect with other institutions
and collaborate on a general plan for New York City’s BTOP

The application for the grants was released on July 9, 2009, and is
due by 5 PM on August 14, 2009. After a thorough review, the NTIA
will announce the finalists in September 2009 and will dole out the
funds in November 2009. The NTIA expects the project to be completed
within two to three years of the award date. The first of three
funding rounds will provide about $1.6 billion in competitive grants
to all fifty states.

Here is the breakdown for NTIA’s $1.6 billion BTOP [NOFA 527-545]
* $1.2 billion allocated to provide last- and middle-mile services to
unserved and underserved areas;
* $50 million for computer centers;
* $150 million to drive broadband demand; and
* $200 million in discretionary funding to spread among the
aforementioned categories, when in need;

Also included in the definitions for unserved and underserved areas.
For "last mile" funding purposes in New York City, an underserved area
can be designated by meeting one of three criteria:
* No more than 50 percent of households have access to facilities-
based terrestrial broadband;
* No fixed or mobile provider advertises speeds of at least 3 megabits
per second (Mbps);
* The rate of subscribership is 40 percent or less.

The NTIA’s Notice of Funds Availability for the BTOP program aims at
access and implementation of net neutrality. "Without a non-
discrimination condition, network operators could give preferential
treatment to affiliated services, or charge some application and
content providers for ‘fast lanes’ that would put others at a
competitive disadvantage," the notice said. Furthermore, applicants
can deploy nondiscrimatory network management methods and offer
managed services that use private connections, such as telemedicine,
public safety communications, and distance learning.

The application process is ranked on a 100-point system. The rubric
is outlined in the following way:
1. Project Purpose (30 points)
2. Project Benefits (25 points)
3. Project Viability (25 points)
4. Project Budget and Sustainability (20 points)

For more information on this breakdown, please log on to
and click on the "Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Broadband
Initiatives Program and Broadband Technology Opportunities Program".
Read through lines 1410 through 1593.

To that, we would like to join us for a brief meeting regarding BTOP
on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at 6 PM. The location will in Manhattan
and you will be notified about the location very soon. Please contact
Kunal Malhotra, Budget and Legislation Director, at (212) 788-6975 or
at if you have any questions or would like
attend the NYC BTOP meeting.

These grants are all competitive. We hope that groups will partner so
to be successful in bringing projects to the five boroughs.


Gale A. Brewer

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Video of Open Government Data Hearing

On Jun 29 2009 there was a public hearing of New York City Council Committee on Technology in Government to discuss open data standards for city agencies, a new bill #991-2009 having been introduced to establish same in an effort to increase government transparency and access to public data. Beyond the 'good government' benefits of the legislation, the bill is intended to unlock City data to enable web developers and entrepreneurs to interact with City government in new and unforeseen ways.

However, on the morning of the hearing Mayor Bloomberg pre-empted the bill by announcing that the City would make available 80 data sets and run a competition 'Big Apps' for the best application. While welcoming the Mayor's initiative, it was apparent that the Committee Chair Gale Brewer, and just about every witness, considered it ultimately insufficient.

Video/audio is below:

Part 1:

Introduction: Gale Brewer

Sami Naim - Asst. Counsel, Office of the Mayor

ipod | stills | youtube | mp3

Part 2:

Andrew Hoppin - CIO NY State Senate
Benjamin Kallos - Open Government Foundation
Ian Jacobs - W3C

ipod | stills | youtube | mp3

Part 3:

Morgan Reed - Assoc. For Competitive Tech.
James Vasile - Software Freedom Law Center
Philip Ashlock - Open Planning Project

ipod | stills | youtube | mp3

Part 4:

Chris Keeley - Common Cause NY
Rachael Fauss - Citizens Union NY
Denora Getachew - Citizens Union NY
Joshua Breitbart - People's Production House

ipod | stills | youtube | mp3

Part 5:

Tom Lowenhaupt - Connecting .NYC Inc.
Silona Bonewald - League of Technical Voters
Frank Hebbert - Regional Plan Assn.

ipod | stills | youtube |mp3

Part 6:

Andrew Brust - Twenty Six New York
Jay Sulzberger
Kayza Kleinman - Non-Profit Helpdesk

Conclusion - Gale Brewer

ipod | stills | youtube | mp3

NYC Council Committee on Technology in Government
Text of the bill
Status of the bill
Briefing on the bill

Bloomberg announcement Press Release
Mayor's Office NYCStat homepage

7/1/09 Ian Jacobs blog of the hearing

6/25/09 NY-FI Open-Government Techies Get Giddy About a Council Bill; But Will Bloomberg Care?
6/29/09 NY Times City Invites Software Developers to Crunch Big Data Sets
6/29/09 Politicker Bloomberg Administration Resists Online Mandate, Citing User-Friendliness
6/29/09 NY-FI review of the hearing.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

NYTimes Series: The Broadband Gap

On Mar 10-12 2009 Saul Hansell addressed the Broadband topic in a 3 part series in the New York Times. The series attracted over 200 comments from the public.

Read more!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Audio of Staten Island Broadband Hearing

Audio of the NYC Broadband Advisory Committee's Staten Island public hearing on Thursday Mar 5 is now available here. Video and summaries will follow.

Here is the timetable. Names are not necessarily accurately spelled - feel free to email with corrections.

0:00:00 intro - David Birdsell
0:00:35 Thomas Morales
0:04:25 Gale Brewer
0:07:32 Sean Belle
0:09:48 Jose Luis Rodriguez
0:10:02 Antony Townsend
0:10:10 Neil Pariser
0:10:27 Avi Devanian
0:10:34 Vincent Grippo
0:10:43 procedure
0:11:53 Sam Ferag
0:16:58 Salvatore Volpe
0:23:26 Tom Dunne
0:29:43 Rev. John Ryan
0:35:43 Dr. Jon Yang Jiang
0:44:55 Angela Daiuto
0:52:21 Giotry Sudansinan
0:56:07 Eve Victor - Seniornet
1:04:12 Mel Bloxner
1:10:12 Kim Falcon - Staten Island Community Hospital
1:14:35 Cathy Santo
1:21:47 Dan Stevens - Stevens Enterprises
1:24:40 Mark Lepari - New Dorp High School
1:30:27 Michael Cress - College of Staten Island
1:35:47 Abdul Ali Bah - Community News Institute
1:41:54 Marissa Parrish, Coutney Castellach, Gary Miller
1:51:26 Ben Torto - MST New Visions
2:02:53 Paula Coyle - SIEDC
2:12:19 Beverly Newhouse - Richmond Senior Services
2:17:07 Michael Devito - NYC ID
2:19:00 Michael Coates - Make The Road NY
2:24:34 Wayne Roy - Troynet
2:28:43 Mamadou Andauou
2:30:41 Nicky Odelavac - Community Agency for Senior Citizens
2:37:57 Kayza Kleinman - Jewish Community Council / Non Profit Help Desk
2:44:44 Vincent Lenzo - Staten Island NFP Org.
2:48:20 Valerie D'Angelo - Student - College of Staten Island
2:51:10 Lou Klepner - NYC Community Fiber Project
3:04:32 Vincent Grippo - DOITT
3:07:13 conclusion - Sean Belle

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

NYC Broadband Hearing - Staten Island - Mar 5 2009

The NYC Broadband Advisory Committee will hold its fifth public hearing in Staten Island on March 5 2009.

: Thursday, March 5, 2009, 11 AM – 3 PM
WHERE: CUNY College of Staten Island (Building 1P)
Recital Hall, The Center for the Arts
2800 Victory Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10314 [map] [travel info]

Coming on the heels of successful public hearings in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens where hundreds of people attended, the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee will hear from policy experts, Staten Island residents and business people in a Public Meeting of the Broadband Advisory Committee in Staten Island. During this official hearing on the borough’s Broadband status, the City Council seeks to answer the following questions: How important is affordable Broadband to businesses and to under-served communities? How will high-speed Internet connections improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers and their families?

“New York is the most dynamic city in the world. But when it comes to the Internet, we’re working to catch up to other jurisdictions,” said Council Member Brewer, Chair of the New York City Council’s Committee on Technology in Government. Brewer sponsored Local Law 126, which created the NYC Broadband Advisory Committee. “I am excited to work with the Mayor’s Office in making New York a place where you don’t have to pay to go slow. We need affordable high-speed Internet connections to bring in jobs, help schools, and make the city safer.”

According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project in May 2008 Survey, 32% of American households are still not using the Internet at all and “those with less education, those with lower household incomes, and Americans age 65 and older are less likely to have embraced broadband than those who are younger and have higher socio-economic status.” Seeking to address these same imbalances, Broadband Advisory Committee Chairperson, Shaun Belle, and CEO of Mount Hope Housing Company said, “Understanding the challenges to Broadband connectivity for the average New Yorker is a primary focus of the Broadband Advisory Committee; exploring and potentially implementing solutions to address these challenges will be the basis of our future planning.”

Andrew Rasiej, an Advisory Committee Member and the Founder of the Personal Democracy Forum and MOUSE said, “These hearings are critical to focusing broad political attention and building consensus for the need to guarantee all New Yorkers an opportunity to participate in the 21st Century economy.” As of February 2009, President Obama’s stimulus plan includes $7 billion in broadband infrastructure development to ensure the American economy is competitive in the long run.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Video of NYC Council webcasting proposal public hearing

Below is video of last week's public hearing on the proposal to webcast NYC City Council and other municipal meetings. It was informative with first, representatives of the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) giving the official line, and then, two presentations by commercial vendors. After which Common Cause, the Peoples Production House, and others, spoke on behalf of the public interest.

Video is below:

iPod | stills | youtube | mp3

Witnesses (w/timecodes)

00:04:18 Paul Cosgrave - Comissioner, DoITT
00:20:10 Christopher Long - DoITT
00:32:18 Robert Feldman - Total Webcasting
00:05:12 Chris Rynders - Granicus Inc.
01:16:19 Susan Lerner - Common Cause / NY
01:21:19 Rachael Fauss - Citizen's Union
01:24:51 Joshua Breitbart - People's Production House
01:32:29 Joly MacFie - ISOC-NY
01:36:16 Kayza Kleinman - Jewish Community Council for Coney Island

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Friday, October 17, 2008

dot nyc hearing (webcast)

On Friday, October 17th, Council Member Gale A. Brewer (D-Manhattan), Chair of the Technology in Government Committee, held a hearing regarding the City’s interest for a unique .nyc Top Level Domain (TLD).

ipod | stills | youtube | mp3

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, also known as ICANN, is globally recognized not-for-profit that is responsible for the coordination of domain names worldwide. In the 2009, ICANN will be implementing new policy recommendations to expand domains for cities worldwide, in an effort to boost city identities and tourism. The new TLD process that is being introduced by ICANN will issue TLDs to cities for the first time in 2009. After this date, cities will be able to apply for a top level domain, eg. .nyc for New York. This TLD will continue New York’s dominance in commerce, tourism, and culture. Moreover, these efforts will increase New York City's position as a leading Digital City.

Council Member Gale A. Brewer is sponsoring a resolution to support the acquisition of the .nyc Top Level Domain. Resolution 1495-2008 urges The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to approve the City’s application in order to meet the needs of city residents via the Internet.

00:00:00 Gale A. Brewer - Introduction
05:15:16 Thomas Lowenhaupt,
21:57:10 Hannah Kopelman,
23:31:31 Michael Palage,
35:29:54 Bill DeBlasio - questions
01:07:01 Frans C. Verhagen, Sustainability Sociologist
01:11:51 Paul Garrin, Name.Space
01:24:37 Antony Van Couvering, Names@Work
01:30:23 Davidson Goldin, Names@Work
01:35:21 Jack Eichenbaum, GISMO

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Gale Brewer speaks at One Web Day 2008

Councilmember Gale Brewer spoke at the celebration of One Web Day 2008 in Washington Sq. Park on Sep 22. Video is below..

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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Broadband Data Improvement Act Passes Congress

Adapted from

"Broadband Data Improvement Act -
Section 3 -
Requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to: (1) revise the definitions of advanced telecommunications capability, or broadband; (2) identify tiers of broadband service in which most connections can reliably transmit full-motion, high definition video; and (3) revise certain provider reporting requirements to enable the FCC to identify actual numbers of broadband connections by customer type and geographic area. Requires the FCC to determine certain demographic data for geographical areas that are not served by any provider of advanced telecommunications capability. Requires expansion of the American Community Survey to elicit information to determine whether persons subscribe to Internet service and, if so, by dial-up or broadband.
Section 4 -
Requires the Comptroller General to conduct a study to evaluate additional broadband metrics or standards that may be used to provide users with more accurate information about the cost and capability of their broadband connection and to better compare the deployment and penetration of broadband in the United States with other countries. Requires a report to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Section 5 -
Requires the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy to conduct a study on the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses.
Section 6 -
Provides for grants to develop and implement statewide initiatives to identify and track the availability and adoption of broadband services within each state. Requires that the FCC provide eligible entities (nonprofit organizations selected by states to work in partnership with state agencies and private sector partners in identifying and tracking the availability and adoption of broadband services in each state) electronic access to aggregate data collected by the FCC from broadband service providers. Authorizes appropriations."

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Monday, September 29, 2008

White Spaces Hearing (webcast)

or view YouTube Playlist

Full audio:


Gale A. Brewer - introduction

Panel 1
Mary Landolfi - Pres. American Federation of Musicians Local 802
Ira Mont - VP Actors Equity Association
Laurie Baskin - Director of Government & Education Programs. Theatre Communications Group
Heidi Mathis - Corporate Relations Manager at The Shubert Organization / Broadway League

Panel 2
Stuart Overby - Senior Director, Global Spectrum Strategy. Motorola, Inc
Marc Berejka - Sr. Director, State Affairs & Public Policy, Microsoft Corp.

Panel 3
Thomas J. Hillgardner - General Counsel For The Association Of Cable Access Producers
David L. Donovan - President, Association For Maximum Service Television, Inc.
Mark Brunner - Senior Director Of Global Public Relations For Shure Inc
James Smith - Producer, Manhattan Neighborhood Network

Panel 4
Joshua Breitbart - Policy Director, People's Production House
Dana Spiegel - Executive Director, NYCwireless
Timothy Karr - Campaign Director, Free Press
Chris Keeley - Associate Director, Common Cause/NY

Panel 5
Gracey Stoddard - representing Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney
John V. Weaver - CEO/President, Liberty Imaging LLC

Panel 6
Michael Lewis - Founder, Wireless Harlem
Dharma Dailey - Director of Research, The Ethos Group

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Why Broadband Matters (video)

Here is video of the US Senate Commerce Committee's hearing 'Why Broadband Matters' held on Sep 16 2008.

Download iPod version


Opening Remarks

Panel 1

Mr. Rey Ramsey [testimony]
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
One Economy Corporation

Mr. Larry Cohen
Communications Workers of America

Mr. Jonathan Linkous
Executive Director
American Telemedicine Association

Dr. Mara Mayor
Board Member

Ms. Margaret Conroy
Missouri State Librarian

Mr. Gene Peltola
President and CEO
Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Council Requests FCC to Slow Digital Switchover

City Hall - On Monday, September 29th at 10:00 AM, Council Member Gale A. Brewer (D-Manhattan), Chair of the Technology in Government Committee, will hold a hearing regarding the FCC’s plans to shutdown the analog frequency in 2009, which will create a huge “white space.”

White spaces, freed radio frequencies due to technological change or unused portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, are opening up opportunities to greater internet access to consumers since the waves can penetrate through walls and travel long distances. The expected digital switchover from analog television broadcasts in February 2009 will open up a large chunk of the U.S. analog frequency for short-range networking.

Current television companies and wireless device users are concerned about the switchover, since they are still using equipment on the analog frequency of 54 MHz to 698 MHz: many wireless microphones use the 600-700 MHz. The cessation from the analogs and the interference of the white space technologies (currently being produced by major technology firms, like Microsoft and Dell) prevent many wireless microphones from working, which are heavily used in major institutions and theatres [e.g., Broadway, Lincoln Center]. Moreover, it is possible that the new white spaces gadgets can interfere with television and other wireless signals on the former frequencies.

Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Member Gale A. Brewer are sponsoring a resolution asking the Federal Communications Commission [FCC] not to promulgate rules until the incumbent analog frequency devices and systems, as well as unlicensed wireless devices, are functioning properly.

The Council Technology in Government Committee will hold the hearing regarding the white spaces on Monday, September 29, 2008 at 10 AM in the Committee Room of City Hall, New York. This is a public meeting and all are welcome to attend.

For further information or to sign up to speak, Samuel Wong, Legislative Aide on Technology, (212) 788-6975/(646) 648 2179 or You can also contact Shula Warren, Chief of Staff, at (212) 788-6975/(347) 668 9576 or

In addition, on Friday, September 19, 2008 at 10 AM, the Council Technology in Government Committee is holding a hearing on Intro. 54, requiring DoITT to produce an annual technology strategy and that the mayoral agencies submit annual technology plans to DoITT for publication as an addendum to the department’s annual technology strategy. The location is in the Committee Room, City Hall, New York. For further information or to sign up to speak, please contact the staff members mentioned above.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mayoral Broadband Briefing Video

An introduction to Mayoral Broadband Briefing is located on YouTube,, for your convenience.

The full briefing can be viewed on the post below.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Video of NYC Broadband Study briefing.

Download: divx | ipod | wmv | real | phone | mp3 | stills

Here is code to embed the video into your page/blog.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Broadband Advisory Committee Briefing

On Wednesday, July 30th at 11:00am there will be a briefing from the Mayor’s Office and Diamond Management & Technology Consultants for the Broadband Advisory Committee regarding the Bloomberg Administration’s plans for bridging the digital divide in New York City.

The Broadband Advisory Committee was established in 2005 with the passage of Introduction 625-A creating a joint public broadband commission to advise the Mayor and the City Council of New York on how the resources of City government can be used to stimulate the private market so that residents and businesses of New York City have more options in terms of high-speed Internet access. The goal of the committee is to educate the general public about broadband and the newest communication technologies, and to give New York City residents the opportunity to comment on how the digital divide in New York City can be closed. To support these efforts the Broadband Advisory Committee has held public Broadband Hearings in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. The Committee will hold its fifth and final hearing in Staten Island this fall.

Diamond Management & Technology Consultants was hired by the New York City Economic Development Corporation to determine the breadth of the digital divide in New York City and develop programs and initiatives to provide greater digital inclusion for all residents. Chris O’Brien, a Partner in Diamond’s Public Sector practice, will be detailing Diamond’s findings and its recommendations for the City’s next steps.

The meeting will take place in the Committee of the Whole Room, City Hall, New York, NY on Wednesday, July 30that 11:00 am. This is a public meeting and all are welcome to attend. For further information please contact Kunal Malhotra, Director of Legislation & Budget, 212-788-6975 or

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FCC wants free broadband service, plus content filtering

An arstechnica article reports that the Federal Communications Commission is looking for a bidder to provide nationwide free broadband service. A spokesperson for the Commission has told Ars that the FCC wants it to include "content filters."

The service would utilize 1.9 GHz-2.1 GHz bands, agency Chair Kevin Martin told reporters on Friday. The data will have to download at a minimum of 768 kilobits, Martin said, provided at a "pretty aggressive" build out schedule: Half the United States population must be able to access it after four years, and 95% by the time the license comes up for renewal. The agency will make available about 25 Megahertz of spectrum for this in an Advanced Wireless Services auction (AWS-3)—details to be disclosed in a Report and Order unveiled at the Commission's open meeting scheduled for June 12th.

A company called M2Z has had a proposal in for something like this for some time. It was turned down last September by the FCC for lack of a competitive bid. However one has now appeared from a company called NetfreeUS. The new proposal, in contrast to the centralized nature of M2Z's plan, would lease the spectrum to cities, entrepreneurs, and other groups. Collectively, they would make the band open on a "private commons" basis to peer-to-peer and device-to-device communicators. The plan has received an endorsement from Congressman Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ).

The ars article notes that, while other spectrum bidders consider both plans a landgrab fraught with problems, in April 2007 Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) and Rep. Christopher Cannon (R- UT) introduced the Wireless Internet Nationwide for Families Act (H.R. 5846) which would mandate such a service.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

Tim Wu calls for Broadband Czar

In a recent article In Slate, part of a series where contributors suggest policy initiatives for the next administration, Prof. Tim Wu of Columbia University calls for, amongst other things, the creation of the post of national Broadband Czar.

Tim was interviewed on NPR last Friday and will be speaking at a colloquium at NYU on Wednesday.

From the article:

Most people in technology will tell you that the
leading problem today—the one thing sinking all boats,
so to speak—is the broadband last mile, the final
connection between people and the Internet. Since
2000, computers have become faster, hard drives
cheaper, and free e-mail better, but for the vast
majority of Americans, Internet access remains clunky.
Same goes for wireless broadband (cell phones with
good Internet access), which is arriving, but slowly
and expensively. These facts limit what everyone in
the tech and media industries can imagine as effective
new products. They are also beginning to put the
United States at a disadvantage as compared with
nations in Asia and Europe that have invested more.

It's a daunting problem with a long history of both
public and private failure
. Unlike, say, building a
better dating service, broadband is an infrastructure
problem that requires solutions akin to improving
roads or plumbing. National infrastructure policy is
tough, and, at its worst, Bush's approach has borrowed
largely from Emperor Nero.

To start fixing things, the next president should
immediately announce a national broadband policy with
this simple goal: to put the United States back into
undisputed leadership in wireless and wire-line
broadband. But the question is how, and that's where
things get complicated. Proposed fixes abound: pay
Verizon, AT&T, or Comcast to build it? Treat the
Internet's pipes like the interstate highways, and
have the government build them? Use tax credits to
encourage consumers to buy their own fiber
connections? Sell property rights in spectrum or
create a "mesh" wireless commons?

No one really knows what the best answer is. That's
why the next president should appoint a specialized
broadband czar to get after the problem. Right now,
broadband is no one's responsibility, and the buck
keeps getting passed between industry, Congress, the
White House, and the FCC. The point of a czar would be
to make it someone's job to figure out what it will
take to fix broadband.

Read more!

Friday, April 11, 2008


Commuter buses in more than 20 cities now offer wireless Internet, according to an informal survey by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). Wireless service is also on some commuter trains. APTA President William Miller predicts wireless Internet will become a service riders expect. Outfitting a bus with wireless capability costs about $1,000 to $2,000, transportation officials said.


Read more!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

USA ranks #4 in W.E.F. Network Readiness Index

The United States is ranked 7th worldwide in a Networked Readiness Index in a new report issued by the World Economic Forum. The index is based on a variety of economic and political as well as technical factors.

This is in contrast to last year's OECD report, based on tighter criteria of bandwidth and connectivity, that ranked the United States 19th worldwide.

From a N.Y. Times article about the report:

An O.E.C.D. economist acknowledged the nuances in
taking into account government regulatory and related
factors, and said it was hard to draw a single
conclusion from the data. "I think we can say that a
lot of the situation in the United States is a result
of the lack of competition," said Taylor Reynolds, an
economist in the Internet and Telecommunications Policy
section of the O.E.C.D. "In Europe we have adopted an
unbundling strategy wholeheartedly."

That has led to more competition in markets outside the
United States, he said, which in turn has driven
Internet service providers elsewhere to offer speedier
service and lower prices.

One aspect of global competition that is being watched
closely, he added, is the way fiber optic networks are
being introduced in different regions. Even though the
United States has begun to accelerate the availability
of fiber optic services, it is lagging Europe and Asia
in network speeds.

While Verizon is offering 50 megabit FIOS in the United
States, 100 megabit services are common in Europe, and
the Japanese are offering 1 gigabit services.

Still, there are puzzling aspects to the American
market, which has higher broadband availability than
many countries but lower adoption rates. More customers
have retained dial-up services than most countries,
which might be explained by price or lack of attractive
broadband services.

The report concludes:

Establishing a pervasive and prosperous Internet culture
is as much about creating the right business environment
as it is about adopting the right technology. If governments-
national, regional, and municipal - want to
harness the potential of ICT, they must not only invest
in ICT infrastructure and the capabilities to support it,
but also be ready to modify their country’s relevant
institutional setting - or ICT ecosystem - to allow ICT
to yield its transformative powers.

More info: The Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008

Read more!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

NY Times editorial on Broadband

An editorial in the Mar 29 2008 New York Times notes Earthlink's turnabout in Philadelphia, and calls for continued efforts to bring universal access.

The article concludes:

Broadband service is no longer a luxury. It has become a basic part of the infrastructure of education and democracy. EarthLink should fulfill the commitments it made. Even in these tough economic times, cities should keep pushing municipal Wi-Fi and looking for partners and plans that can make it a reality.

Read more!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Universal Broadband Grants for New York announced

New York State Council for Universal BroadbandMar 19: New York Governor David A. Paterson announced that nine public/private sector partnerships will be the first recipients of grants from the New York State Council for Universal Broadband. The funds are targeted to help promote the research, design and implementation of innovative solutions to create affordable broadband Internet access for underserved urban and rural communities throughout the state.

Amongst the recipients were an initiative to bring broadband over power lines (BPL) to Onondaga County and a program to bring a year's free access to residents of the Mount Hope community housing project in the Bronx. Naturally our illustrious chairman is to be congratulated on the latter.

In 2007, the New York State Legislature appropriated $5 million to provide seed money to be awarded through the Council. To leverage the funds, the Council required a minimum dollar-for-dollar match in the form of cash, in-kind goods and services, or a combination of the two. The value of the matching cash and in-kind services from the nine award recipients totals more than $15.1 million.

More than 50 applications were received for the first year of funding and the proposed 2008-09 budget includes $15 million to continue the program.

Press Release:

Grant Recipients:

ISOC-NY: New York State Council for Universal Broadband Read more!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Summary of testimony at Queens Public Hearing

Below is a quick summary I made for ISOC-NY of the testimony at the Queens Public hearing.

At the hearing an updated Briefing on Broadband Access to the Internet in New York City was issued.

Summary of testimony

01 David Birdsell - Introductions

  • Neil Pariser
  • Tom Dunne
  • Anthony Townsend
  • David Wicks
  • Wendy Lader
  • Mitchel Ahlbaum

02 Cindy Freidmutter - Vice President of External Affairs at LaGuardia Community College -

  • Welcome

03 Larry Pressler - Former U.S. Senator (R-SD) -

  • Sen. Pressler is author of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

Gale: should e-rate be expanded?

  • Yes. Sen. Pressler is working on an article that will recommend that the 1996 act be brought up to date particularly the Snowe-Rockefeller amendment.
  • It's important that the NYCBAC make its concerns known to Washington.

04 Gale Brewer & James Sanders - introductory remarks

  • Work of this Committee is combined with the Economic Development Corp.
  • Technology is fast changing.
  • NYC ahead of the curve compared to other cities.
  • Public participation is vital.

05 Frank Pasquale, Professor, Seton Hall University School of Law

  • Broadband infrastructure essential to economy.
  • Digital divide 1) between rich and poor in the USA.
  • Digital Divide 2) between USA and other advanced countries.
  • Government co-investment needed to meet goals.

Gale : How do we achieve goals without federal support?

  • While maintaining net neutrality explore taxation of successful application providers.

06 Joshua Breitbart, Policy Director, Peoples Production House -

Tom: Does PPH work with community access organizations?

  • Community grant funded video project with MNN for high schools on explaining internet technology.

Gale: Vis-a-vis PPH 'Road NYC' program the committee would be glad to meet with immigrants, perhaps with simultaneous translation, to discuss broadband.

  • This could be done. Meetings would not necessarily have to be lengthy.

David: Top two suggestions for improving public engagement on broadband issue?

  • Evening meetings
  • Update website

07 Takeshi Utsumi, PhD, Global University System / Columbia University

  • 35 years experience in internetworking
  • creating Global University System with HQ in Tampere, Finland
  • Japan & Korea way ahead of USA - consumers pay $50/mth for 100-160 mbps,
  • While Brooklyn Poly/Columbia U. have 100mbps - major Japanese Universities have 100gbps & local universities have 1gbps
  • There is a 1.3 tera bps connection between Japan and Siberia
  • a 2 tera bps is being promulgated between Japan and Africa, with Japan Gov, finance $10-20 billion
  • Asian Development Bank is developing a fibre super highway alomg the old Silk Road.
  • NYC should be a dynamic information center, yet Prof. Utsumi has 10mbps which drops to 5mpbs via Time Warner.
  • NYC ought to devise at least a 1 terabit trunkline throughout 5 boroughs then implement free wireless access.
  • Education software is becoming free, the connection needs to also be free.
  • Mere multimedia content capability is not sufficient - applications like videoconferencing, collaborative engineering simulations need more bandwidth

Anthony: Is the city at a disadvantage for attracting scientific research because of bandwidth deficiency?

  • Yes. When Prof. Utsumi started there was only one other computer the equivalent of Brooklyn Poly. While everyone else has progressed Brooklyn Poly has stayed the same.

Gale: Should the national government spend billions of dollars like other countries?

  • Prof. Utsumi has been working with Finland. Finland is #1 on vocational training. The first thing to spend money on is education in K12.

Neil: What in particular is effect of lack of bandwidth on Brooklyn Poly?

  • With 1gbps students can work on virtual reality, collaborative 3d modeling, on a global scale. Educational video needs to be of high quality.

08 Computers For Youth -

Bill Rappel, National Director for the Affiliate Network.

  • 3 students that are testifying are from I.S.204.
  • CFY promotes a rich home learning environment in partnership with schools.
  • CFY's programs select middle school and provides every 6th grader with computer w/ standalone educational software.
  • Going forward software will increasingly require broadband access.

Rema McCoy, Student Software Team Manager

  • Student volunteers participate in Saturday sessions evaluating educational software
  • All three students testifying are participants in the program.
  • Increasingly submitted software requires online connectivity so this year, via co-operation with cable operators, all participants have received free broadband.

Samuel Fok, I.S. 204 student

  • All students should have fast and inexpensive internet at home, helps with research and do home work faster and on time.
  • Time is wasted waiting for access at the library. One of Sam's projects got deleted.
  • Video material in particular needs broadband.

Nadia Betancor, I.S. 204

  • All students should have fast and inexpensive internet at home, it gives you information at your fingertips.
  • It helps you find out what is happening in other parts of the world.
  • Internet access is a useful and important research resource for school projects.
  • Home access is easier, quieter, more enjoyable, comfortable, and relaxing.
  • Home access saves time and having to walk to the library (although walking is good exercise).
  • Nadia also does research for her family, and is able to help her brother and her sister with their homework.

Daisy Garcia, I.S. 204

  • All students should have fast and inexpensive internet at home, kids need it to do research for their homework.
  • With home access, it is possible explore freely without the pressure of time limits or worries of losing data.

Mitchel: Where do you learn how to use the internet?

  • Daisy: School
  • Samuel: Parents
  • Nadia: School

Gale: Do other kids in your class have Internet at home? How much help is it at school if you have it at home?

  • Sam: Many kids have dial-up, but only one in 27 in his class had dsl o. Some web-pages use a lot of a memory and it makes projects slow. A project that takes a day on broadband can take a week on dial-up.
  • Nadia: Not everyone. They have to go to the library. Home access would be a big help.
  • Daisy: Only a few have cable Internet. Home access is much faster than going to the library.

Neil: What was the last project you needed internet for, and for which library access was insufficient.

  • Daisy. Black History Month. Thurgood Marshall.
  • Nadia. Same project. In the library sometimes they won't have a book on the person you have been assigned, while on the computer you just type in the name and the information comes up.
  • Samuel. Has been working for some time on a Science Fair project. Researching information on the human nervous system. With dial-up progress was slow. Now with broadband, project is almost finished.

Neil: Have you given up going to the library now that you have internet?

  • Sam: Not given up, but the 35 minutes it takes for him to walk to the library he can work on his project.
  • Daisy: Still goes to the library for books.
  • Nadia: likes reading, and takes her brother and sister so they can increase their reading skills.

David Wicks: With home access do parents get involved in school projects?

  • Daisy: Yes. Leads to conversation.
  • Nadia: Yes. Parents make helpful suggestions.
  • Samuel: Yes. Dad checks that he's focused.

Wendy: Do your parents know how to go online?

  • Sam: Parents know how to go online, but need help.
  • Daisy: is teaching her parents. Dad is getting the hang of it.
  • Nadia: helps her Mom.

Wendy: Are there any studies on the percentage of broadband usership amongst CFY participants?

  • Bill: will forward information to the Committee.

Wendy: Is CFY providing broadband for other schools?

  • Bill: apart from software evaluators at I.S.204. there is a pilot program with Cablevision in The Bronx where all CFY families are provided with 8 hours of free access - they can then elect to sign up for dial-up at $9/month, payable with check or money order.

Wendy: Was it successful? Will it be expanded?

  • Bill: Too early to say. While many families were already signed up for triple-play, among the rest many were reluctant to sign up at all for reasons that are not clear.

David Wicks: Website?

David: Nadia, how has home access changed tutoring your brother and sister?

  • Nadia: Instead of going to the library, I can just access the information.

Davis: Do your friends come over to use your broadband?

  • Sam: Not really.
  • Daisy: No.
  • Nadia: Yes. A friend comes over to do her projects.

09 Scott Wolpow - IT professional

  • Hearing could be streamed live?
  • Concerns with access providers:
    • Net Neutrality - restricting access infringes first amendment rights
    • Throttled bandwidth - ditto, and while occasionally justifiable should be fully disclosed
    • Blocked ports - limit parents ability to to monitor children, VOIP, smart refrigerators and other innovative applications, often is undisclosed
    • Undisclosed real speeds.
    • Arbitrary data transfer limits.

Anthony: Are these behaviors inhibiting New Yorkers ability to develop new projects and services?

  • 100%. Yes.

10 Daniel Dragan - broadband customer

  • Lack of competition - extremely difficult for new players.
  • Access via Libraries - valuable free resource
  • Internet cafe's - cheap alternative
  • Lack of middle ground between consumer and business class connections.
  • Municipal broadband fails because it overestimates potential customers and is uncompetitive
  • Universal Service Fund. Should fund broadband access.
  • Internet speeds are not increasing.
  • Looks forward to the day when entire world is a global LAN
  • dsl access is not available in all parts of the city
  • Resellers are ill served by broadband providers
  • Small businesses can be hit with big line charges to install commercial grade access
  • Industrial parks being a particular example.

Wendy: Which industrial parks?

  • Brooklyn Navy Yards

Wendy: I think that's been remedied.

11 Bruce Lincoln - Urban Cyberspace Initiative

  • submitted testimony
  • Involved in a pilot project in Harlem to develop technology entrepreneurship community centers in the NYCHA properties.
  • In the information age all citizens need 1) access 2) training, and 3) services.
  • Recently attended 'State of the Internet' and 'Future of Broadband' conferences and was surprised to find goal was limited to 10mbps to 100mbps.
  • For immersive distance-learning and tele-medicine apps symmetric bandwidth in the 1gbps range is imperative.
  • Incumbents have little interest in radical redevelopment of their networks, particularly in under-served markets.
  • Metroscale Regional Cyberspace Initiative (MERCI) is a hybrid fiber/wireless model developed at MIT.
  • Apart from social benefits the MERCI model is designed to break even financially in 36 months.
  • MERCI is undergoing tests in several communities including Harlem, & Jackson Mississippi.

Gale: What is necessary for ubiquitous coverage? For instance, in Jackson?

  • Long term agreement with municipality
  • Using incumbent redundant fiber.
  • Access to city's assets. Towers, lightposts, etc.
  • In Jackson backhaul provided by Entergy thus no conflict of interest.

James: How much costs involved in Mississippi projects?

  • Couched in the context of a green development with Carlton Brown Co., built into the overall bond
  • Cost in Jackson was $1.95m
  • Delta project was $500.000 - looking for funding from Rural Broadband Telecommunications Authority of the US Dept. of Agriculture

James: So how much for Queens?

  • A basic deployment in Queens - $500,000
  • A basic deployment in the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone - $365,000

Neil: So are you an IP provider or are just putting in infrastructure?

  • Not an IP provider - commercialized advanced technology.
  • Previously worked with Columbia U. and City on Community Tech Centers
  • In contrast to Philadelphia mesh system emphasis is on smart green buildings with private developers
  • System is then gifted to community via co-operative ownership.
  • Consortial partners provide equipment and services.

Neil: Harlem project is $365,00. What will we see for that?

  • Initially 1mpbs wireless cloud from 116th to 175th St's.
  • Custom access devices will either be manufactured in China or by Nokia which will access computational services on the network.

Neil: It will be wired?

  • It will be wired, with fiber and WiMax backhaul.

David: What regulatory relief would be required to do this on a broad scale.

  • The incumbents would need to be held at bay.
  • With this in mind we are forming these non-profit consortia so there is community ownership of the network.

12 Thomas Lowenhaupt - -

  • Founded - a non-profit with the purpose of acquiring .nyc top level domain
  • Developing Internet vital for city.
  • Without it's own namespace and adequate telecommunications NYC may become a hasbeen .
  • NYC is joined in the drive for a city TLD by Paris and Berlin.
  • 100mpbs is insufficient as goal
  • Almost 200 years ago a similar advisory board laid out the Manhattan street plan.

Gale: What progress on .nyc?

  • In 2001 Community Board 3 passed a resolution suggesting acquisition of .nyc
  • Idea lay mostly dormant until Berlin got in touch a year ago, and then non-profit was formed.
  • Participating for a year in ICANN process, and will attend ICANN meeting in Paris in June.

13 Sonya Park, Program Director of New York Metro Area, National Fund for Teaching Entrepreneurship -

  • Since 1987 have trained over 30.000 in entrepreneurship via creation of business plans.
  • Many students are from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Emphasis is on self-empowerment.
  • Research, and thus Internet access is a vital component.

Gail: Do students have access at home?

  • Primary access is at schools/libraries.
  • NFTE maintains a bank of computers at its office in Wall St. for alumni students.
  • Pilot program of business centers around the City.

Gail: Once students graduate, lacking home access, library or your center is the only option?

  • Libraries and community centers are good options, but opportunities are restricted.

Jose: What are your top 3 recommendations for access?

  • Availability in schools. Quality is variable. Upgrading school's access/equipment/software should be a priority.
  • After school access should be provided.
  • Subsidized home access for disadvantaged students with computers.

Jose: How important are community-based organizations as an access option?

  • Many CBO's offer programs but not general access.
  • Greater availability needed.

14 Barbara Colwell, Executive Director, ThinkQuest NYC -

  • submitted brochure
  • ThinkQuest hosts annual competitions where teams of students build websites.
  • 15.000 students in all 5 boroughs have participated.
  • 75% of schools involved have the majority of students on reduced priced lunch.
  • The internet has changed learning and communication.
  • Critical information for kids such as healthcare, scholarships, and community is available via the internet.
  • Broadband is necessary, dialup is no longer effective.
  • Broadband should be available to everone in the city.

Anthony: Is your group based in NYC. Are your sponsors, such as Apple & Pearson NYC based?

  • Yes. Local Apple and Pearson people help with teacher training on weekends.

Anthony: Have you approached any of the Telecom companies?

  • Verizon have been approached and it was suggested that they provide some free access. None has been forthcoming.

Shaun: How do you suggest home access be provided?

  • If the providers were to provide access free or low-cost to people who qualify under poverty levels the whole problem would be solved.
  • A recent Georgetown U. study found that broadband access is discriminated, both racially and economically, against those most desperately in need of the quality of life improvements it provides.

15. Mary Vavruska, Queens Borough Chamber of Commerce

  • submitted testimony
  • Every year improving broadband access is part of the Queens Chamber legislative platform.
  • Improved access is essential for global competitiveness.
  • Seniors need broadband to take advantage of remote health monitoring options.
  • Lack of access might hamper Homeland Security abilities.
  • It is time to conclude study and take action.

Gale: What's the state of small business internet usage in Queens?

  • Queens Chamber has regular seminars on technology.
  • A grant has been received to assist business in adoption of best practices and technology.
  • A database of available interns has been established on the Queens Chamber website.

Read more!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Queens Hearing of the NYC Broadband Advisory Committee

On March 3rd, 2008 the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee met at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. The Committee heard from many members of the Queens nonprofit, academic, and small business community. Furthermore, the Committee also heard from special guest former U.S. Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD), who was a member of Congress for 22 years: 18 in the U.S. Senate, four in the U.S. House. Senator Pressler authored the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

You can find download links for audio and an iPod-compatible version of the video below.



Read more!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bronx BAC Official Hearing Testimony March 30

Official Hearing Testimony of the Bronx Broadband Advisory Committee Hearing - March 30, 2007.

Please click on the following link to download the Bronx Hearing Transcript

Read more!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Broadband Advisory Committee Comes to Manhattan

On Wednesday, December 12th, from 1pm until 4pm at the Manhattan School of Music, Greenfield Hall the Broadband Advisory Committee will meet.

Let us know why a fast - and affordable - Internet connection is useful and important to you. If broadband is not available in your home, business or organization, or if it is too expensive, the members of the joint Mayoral-City Council Broadband Advisory Committee want to hear from you. To testify, call 212.788.6975 or email Kunal.Malhotra[at]

Read more!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NYC Broadband Advisory Committee August 6, 2007, Meeting

The following are notes from the August 6, 2007 NYC Broadband Advisory Committee Meeting courtesy of Mr. Joshua Breitbart, Policy Director of People's Production House.

Committee members in attendance:
Anthony Townsend
Stand-in for Tom Dunne (Verizon representative)
Shaun Belle
Elisabeth Stock
Wendy Lader
David Birdsell
Andrew Rasiej
Mitch Ahlbaum
Howard Szarfarc
Avi Dandevani
Jose Rodriguez

Audience members:
Council Member Gale Brewer
Brewer's Chief of Staff Bruce Lai
Jeffrey Baker, Counsel to the Committee on Technology in Government
Diamond Consultants
and me, Joshua Breitbart

Ted Brodheim, the recently-hired Chief Information Officer for the NYC Department of Education. (4 months on the job)

Summary notes of Mr. Brodheim’s testimony
The challenge is that any DOE program utilizing broadband in the home needs to be implemented equitably. Dept. of Education is not implementing programs now due to imbalance in home broadband access.

Schools are no longer geographically specific. Neighborhood-based schools allowed for after-school interaction. “The web offers the possibility to bring that collaboration back into the educational process.”

If broadband inequity were removed tomorrow, it would be “all about collaboration tools for students.” It would enable teachers to put up research, content, and supplemental materials on the web allowing students to add pieces to it.

In his opinion, the barrier to Internet access is the cost of the service. There needs to be a no- or low-cost way to provide broadband access. If it can’t be universal, then it should at least serve an entire grade level (probably high elementary or middle school).

He is trying to track down the amount the Dept. of Ed. spends on ICT. Off of the top of his head, he’d guess it’s 5-700 million, including telecom costs (phone, blackberries).

The Internet has "tremendous potential to unlock what happens in the classroom and extend it out into the homes and the community."

Question: What affect does access have on student performance?
Efficiency, or productivity in the classroom, not studied much, but unquestionably higher. Students and teachers become way more efficient in the classroom. There's a high impact on student achievement. This fall, the DOE is giving 6000 teachers (out of 90,000) laptops and broadband access as a pilot project to seed the idea of using technology along these lines.

Schools are only open 15% of the time, so there is idle bandwidth, which could, as Anthony Townsend put it, "make schools as an oasis for broadband." But there are restrictions from e-rate federal funding. Can't open e-rate to public or use it to wire administrative offices. Reimbursement rates are at 95%, so it's a hard argument to shift to another funding source

Question: Textbooks are expensive, so could there be a provision for savings on textbooks for utilizing broadband?
Answer: No answer available.

Question: Are the teachers ready to implement Internet into their curriculum?
Answer: Some are ready now and some would get ready. But, some won't get ready. However, They want to do the right thing, as long as we give them what they need.

DOE has a network of 95 miles of heavy fiber, several hundred miles of spurs, and hundreds of thousands of nodes. It receives about 100,000 denial-of-service (DOS) attacks every day. They are trying to balance the protection of the integrity of the network and recognizing that we don't know where the next best idea will come from. They're also working on tools to allow schools to share info, like through wikis, where they write about what works and what doesn't, to help them get over the learning curve. It has to be done in the context of protecting the integrity of the network.

"You name the model, we've got it." With support from Microsoft, Cisco, and others, New York is "a virtual national lab of schools of the future."

He's looking to package tech options - using tech support models, etc. Schools know their problems, but not necessarily the solutions. They're looking to better leverage resources they now have. He's looking for a couple of base models for k-5, middle school, high school, to give an idea of what schools should look like from a technological standpoint. DOE is developing school profiles, groups of 30-100 schools, with school support organizations to target solutions at those common schools. They are trying to do that with software, etc.

There's a new system - ARIS - (achievement reporting system) to make reporting available to teachers and principals this year and parents next year. Currently reports are mailed home, but these reports will be more frequently updated and have more information. But that doesn't address inequity in terms of parents without Internet access.

DOE has not done hard statistics on the inequity, but in the future they may include broadband questions in new surveys.

Some schools have assumptions that everyone has access, while others assume that no one has access. Schools try to keep computer labs open after hours.

Students limited in ability to research colleges and prepare themselves for going through the application process, even if it hasn't necessarily limited the actual submission of applications. Need to improve tools around searching, searching for scholarships, etc.

Currently talking with Secretary of Ed. Spelling and the FCC to re-interpret e-rate rules. They are too much about laying physical cable, and not allowing for a move into the next generation of technology, specifically, collaborative tools, and maintenance. E-rate can't be spent on upgrades for 6 years even though the hardware becomes outdated in 3 years. Also, they only allow you to buy things. There's no training on any of the ways to make the things useful.

Distance learning: DOE hasn't done much on it, but if they did it would address students missing school and collaboration with school districts outside of the city.

Question: How much tech is in the curriculum? How is it integrated?
Answer: It's been left to each school to decide, so I can't answer. There's no clear model. Schools that are doing a good job have figured it out on their own – the good and bad. Now we're looking to identify what's working well, package it, and move it into other locations. It's up to principals, so it's possible for students to go through school without using, although I would be surprised if that is that were the case.

Question from Mitch Ahlbaum (DOITT): The first step, before talking about computers at home, is to make sure they are actually being used in the schools.

Answer: There are 400,000 high school students. Ratio of 4:1 (students to student-available computers); not 100% of those computers are connected to the Internet. It's close to 90% but it's not evenly distributed across schools. Every school outside of District 75 (special education) has some access.

Question from Elisabeth Stock, Computers For Youth: How is your office connected to the instructional side? How can you do that as best as possible?

Answer: We're working quite closely now, though that had not been the case in the past.

There are 1500 schools and we now understand the need for flexibility across those schools

We work with a number of nonprofit organizations, and received a modest grant from Gates to form more of those partnerships. There's no hard demographic data on access to these programs and we don't actively seek such grants, just had a chance at this one grant

Question from Andrew Rasiej: Will the market solve the problems or should government intervene?
Answer: "Market forces will not address this on their own."


Other matters:

David Birdsell: There have been consistent themes in the Bronx and Brooklyn: What people want to do but can’t do, including content creation, video content, community web-based development. They can't do it because affordable broadband is not available. Let's take themes and get data beyond the anecdotal level.
There's a lack of awareness of opportunities from people who aren't functioning within a broadband environment. There's a lack of imagination impressed by a tendency to define broadband in terms of what we have today (768k, 1.5mb - not the 20mb or 50mb rates we might dream about) - "We should be thinking about what might be rather than getting people on board with what we have today."

There's a plan to do 3 more hearings this year - In September, October, and a report due at the end of the year. The Committee will be working out those dates in the next couple of weeks

Shaun Belle: Ongoing theme - there's no master plan, yet the ability to deliver the platform is there, there's just not a lot of emphasis around it. No one is thinking about the issue outside of their own agency or outside of the school

We're looking for real data. What are we looking to present at the end of the day?

Wendy Lader: On the timing of report: City Hall asked for more info, so the report is still in the works. We will present an overview to Committee members before it is prepared for release.
On the surveys - over 1000 responses to the NYCHA survey from 6700 selected.
2000 responses to paper surveys in 58 libraries.
We need a few more months.

Anthony Townsend: On underutilized infrastructure from schools, libraries, public safety
"What can we do to get extra value out of what the City is already investing in?"
There is redundant infrastructure that is all underutilized, including a proposed $500 million network for NYPD and municipal agencies.
Andrew Rasiej: That $500 million could be leveraged
Gale Brewer agrees and would appreciate help making that happen.

Andrew Rasiej: We should be working on some potential recommendations.

David Birdsell – Our task has three parts:
1. Describe situation on the ground
2. Describe the world we would like to see exist - what to aspire to? Bandwidth, cost
3. How to get there?
We should be looking at other cities' ability to roll out affordable 20mb broadband.

Andrew Rasiej: Who can provide us with information to compare NYC to other cities in the US and internationally? Let's have a chat with Diamond so we at least know what they’re presenting.

Wendy Lader: Maybe it will be a month, or a month and a half to get an overview.

The contract between EDC and Diamond Consultants is funded through an IDA grant.

Andrew Rasiej: What can we do to make sure that our recommendations get done?

Shaun Belle: What commitment do we have from the Mayor to act?

Gale Brewer: The Council doesn't know what to do. We could devote funding, but how do you sustain and maintain a public-private partnership? An initiative is more likely than big change in policy.

Elisabeth Stock: Should we address duopoly?
Franchise is up in 2008. Mitch Ahlbaum (DOITT) is knowledgeable on that.

Elisabeth Stock: What money available from the state, that new $5 million?
Brewer’s office will look into it.


Joshua Breitbart, Policy Director
People's Production House
265 Canal Street, suite 410
New York, NY 10013

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