Charity Begins At Your Desktop

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Tomorrow in The Bronx, Manhattan City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (pictured) and Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion will co-host a forum on bridging the so-called "digital divide," particularly when it comes to broadband Internet access. You see, broadband costs money, and its more money than some people are able to spend. The solution: make broadband free! Or at least cheap.

"Without a broadband connection, a person is at an immediate disadvantage in this information-based global economy," said Brewer. "Some parts of New York City are among the most wired and wireless in the world, but affordable broadband access varies from neighborhood to neighborhood. It's time we gave all New Yorkers the chance to enter the 21st Century."

Since cable companies have such a sweet deal right now, a deal that keeps competitors from entering the market on a county-by-county basis and creates local monopolies, it is certainly appropriate to demand that each neighborhood is wired to allow consumers to purchase high speed Internet. But should government really get involved in driving the cost down? A phone is much more important that broadband, yet no one would ever think of making phones virtually free at the governments expense.

Is there even a real demand? In 2005, Andrew Rasiej ran for public advocate on a tech-friendly platform, including a call for free wireless across the City. No one really expected him to win, but he didn't reach 5% of the vote, and finished behind a candidate that hardly campaigned. More [here].

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