NYCBAC Queens hearing

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New York City Broadband Advisory Committee

For more info, see NYC Broadband Advisory Committee.

Queens Public Hearing - Mar 3 2008

The New York City Broadband Advisory Committee held its fourth Public Hearing on Monday Mar 3rd at LaGuardia Community College in Queens.

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


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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.