City Council Tech Committee Holds Hearing on WiFi in NYC Parks
On January 26, 2011, the New York City Council held a joint hearing with the Committee on Technology and the Committee on Parks and Recreation to discuss wireless internet access in New York City’s public parks. The hearing centered around the agreement in principle on a franchise renewal between DoITT and the cable providers Cablevision and Time Warner Cable. Under the agreement, the companies would invest $10 million to install and maintain WiFi service in 32 public parks throughout the five boroughs. The plan would carry it with it the following stipulations:
– Service would be free for exisiting Cablevision and Time Warner Cable subscribers.
– Non-subscribers would be allotted three, free, ten-minute sessions per month.
– Additional access would be available for a 24-hour period, for a fee of 99 cents.
A number of people testified at the hearing, including Carole Post, Commisioner of DoITT; Mitch Albauhm, DoITT’s General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner for Franchise Administration; Bruce Regal, Senior Counsel at the New York City Law Department; Robert Garafola, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation; Deanna Bitetti, Associate Director of Common Cause New York; Dana Spiegel, Executive Director of NYCwireless; and others.
A number of advocates are concerned that the service is not being provided free of charge, especially given that DoITT has stated that their goal is to provide WiFi service to low-income communities which have been traditionally underserved in regards to internet access. For more information on this or other technology issues, please contact the Office of Council Member Gale A. Brewer, William Colegrove, Director of Legislation and Budget, at (212) 788-6975, or firstname.lastname@example.org.