Broadband for All Citizens in New York
December 7th, 2007

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Gov. Eliot Spitzer yesterday announced a plan to deliver affordable broadband access to every New Yorker. In a speech (via the Albany Project) on the importance of agriculture to the upstate economy, Spitzer said, “Infrastructure means something different than it once did. Fifty or seventy-five years ago, infrastructure meant access to a paved road, electricity or a phone line. Today, it means access to the information superhighway – and all of the economic opportunity that comes with it.”

“Nearly two-thirds of people living in New York City lack access to affordable high-speed broadband,” he added. “Some neighborhoods – like Sunset Park, Red Hook and Hunts Point – don’t even have affordable access beyond a dial-up connection.”

The governor has committed to a goal of providing 24 hour access for every resident of major metropolitan areas to broadband at speeds of 100 megabits per second by 2015. It only takes about five megabits per second to deliver high definition video with some versions of free software. The rest of the state would have access to speeds of 20 megabits per second.

One step Spitzer has already taken is the formation a panel comprised of academics, public officials and an Assembly member. This panel will map out the state’s internet infrastructure; study ways to improve digital literacy in underserved urban and rural areas; and develop a collaboration with academic, not-for-profit, and private institutions.

“The importance of developing a statewide broadband strategy cannot be overstated,” said Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, the chair of the panel. “Through strong collaborative public/private partnerships we can create an environment across New York State that fosters innovation, life-long learning and economic growth through greater use of technology.”

Construction of the network will be funded by non profit and private funds matched by state money. It was not clear, however, who would operate the network. The participation of minority- and women-owned businesses will be given priority in its development.

Comparing the plan to Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s project to provide electricity for impoverished rural areas upstate, the governor declared, “Today, high-speed, affordable broadband Internet is just as important to our economic future as electricity was then. And today, as we did then, New York is taking action.”

But due to special interests, construction for that project did not begin until 23 years after FDR announced his plans.

By on December 7, 2007, 10:19 am
In category: Albany,Economy,Tech | 2 Comments »

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2 Responses to “Broadband for All Citizens in New York”

  1. larry littlefield Says:
    December 9th, 2007 at 7:46 am

    Sad to say, given the hostility of the rest of the state to funding anything characteristic of city living, that the city will be taxed (again) to fund the extreme cost of providing infrastructure in remote locations. Wiring that single house a half-mile off the state road is going to cost us (not them) plenty.

  2. Carey Muir Says:
    December 11th, 2007 at 6:36 am

    I saw a video which compared the US Broadband to that in Japan where they enjoy 12 times the speed for 12 times less. [edited – MM]

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