Digital Divide Would be Greatly Diminished by James/Kallos Proposal for Free and Low-Cost Internet for Millions of New Yorkers
New York, NY– Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Ben Kallos and elected officials today called on the New York State Public Service Commission (PSC) to guarantee universal broadband and consumer protections in the prospective Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger, which the PSC will approve or reject on November 13. The coalition of 22 state and local elected officials argued that for such a merger to be in the public interest, it would require key public benefits.
The merger of the two cable giants would provide Comcast with Time Warner Cable’s 2.5 million customers in New York State and 40 percent of Internet subscribers across the nation. The FCC has delayed a decision on the merger, but states such as New York State and California are conducting their own review processes.
The New York coalition demanded specific guaranteed public benefits for the Public Service Commission to consider the merger, including, but not limited to:
- Universal broadband to bridge the digital divide, providing free wi-fi programs to NYCHA, senior, youth and community centers, and expanding affordable broadband services to all who qualify for means-based federal, state and city subsidies;
- Improvements in infrastructure, transparency, and customer service to keep New York competitive and ensure residents have effective and reliable cable by reducing wait times, vastly improving service and reducing consumer complaints;
- Increased transparency around interconnect transmission data to ensure compliance with Net Neutrality standards and a commitment to an Open Internet.
The standards were outlined in a letter sent to the Public Service Commission today, with a broad coalition including State Senator Kevin Parker, State Senator Jose Peralta, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Karim Camara, Assembly Member Walter Mosley, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Council Member Donovan Richards, Council Member Brad Lander, Council Member Stephen Levin, Council Member Deborah Rose, Council Member Paul Vallone, Council Member Mark Levine, Council Member Margaret Chin, Council Member Danny Dromm, Council Member I. Daneek Miller, Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Council Member James Van Bramer, Council Member Carlos Menchaca and Council Member Alan Maisel.