Sunday, April 1, 2007

Audio of the Bronx Hearing

Audio of the Bronx Hearing available here.
3-min report from Kat Aaron of WBAI's Wakeup Call available here.
Press release available here:

On March 30, at Bronx Community College, the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee held its first-ever public hearing. Over 200 people attended and approximately 30 people --Bronx residents, both young and old, business owners, and non-profit leaders-- testified on the importance of inexpensive and reliable access to broadband. We'd like to thank you all for participating in this great event.

Council Member Brewer, the Chair of New York City Council’s Committee on Technology in Government, talked about need for affordable access to broadband in order to improve quality of life of – and economic opportunities for – all New Yorkers.

“New York is the most dynamic city in the world. But when it comes to the Internet, we’re stuck in the dial-up age,” said Council Member Brewer. “I want to figure out ways to change that and to use broadband to bring in jobs, help schools, and make the city safer. There are over 1.1 million schoolchildren in New York City public schools. Shouldn’t they all have access to the vast information resources of the Internet in the home as well?”

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr. spoke about the importance of universal access to broadband to keeping New York City ahead of its competitors in the global world economy.

"For New York to remain competitive in the global market place, we must ensure that every New Yorker is given access to high-speed and reliable Internet connections," stated Bronx Borough President Carrión.

“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,” said Andrew Rasiej, an Advisory Committee Member and the Founder of the Personal Democracy Forum and MOUSE.

Statements of support were submitted by US Senator Hillary Clinton, US Senator Chuck Schumer, Speaker of the New York City Council, Christine Quinn, and Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps.

“Today, one of the greatest catalysts for fostering economic opportunity and opening up new worlds to young and old is access to the Internet. For many people, especially those in underserved communities, the digital divide has not been closed. In order for people to realize the benefits of this technology for education, employment, and training, they must have the infrastructure in place. We must help bring the power of technology into people’s lives, especially in underserved areas like the Bronx, with the hope that every family can have the tools for success in today’s technology-rich economy,” said Senator Clinton.

“In a world that is increasingly reliant on high-speed, easily accessible Internet, not having high-speed Internet access is like not having air to breathe," said Senator Charles Schumer. "Broadband technology is the lifeblood of the new economy, and to keep New York City at the forefront of the 21st century global market, it is vital that residents, businesses and visitors in the city have access to high-speed, quality, universal Internet to connect them wherever they may be.”

Speaker Quinn said, "The Digital Divide is a serious issue facing our society, so I applaud the attention Council Member Brewer has brought to this issue. Here in New York City, many underserved communities won't survive in this new Information Age without the technical knowledge many of us take for granted. The bottom line is we need to use out-of-the box-thinking to ensure that today's technology is used to improve the future of New Yorkers. This Broadband Advisory Committee hearing, and the ones to follow in the coming weeks, is the first major step toward truly bridging the technology gap."

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael J. Copps expressed his support of the Advisory Committee’s work. “This must be a high national priority if our communities and our country are going to be competitive and successful in the 21st century,” wrote Commissioner Copps.