Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner
Jessica A. Chittenden

December 06, 2007

Governor Eliot Spitzer and First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer Launch Effort to Ensure Affordable High-Speed Internet For Every New Yorker

State Forms Broadband Council to Support Key Component of “I Live NY” Initiative

Governor Eliot Spitzer and First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer today announced the formation of the New York State Council for Universal Broadband, which is charged with developing strategies to ensure every New Yorker has access to affordable, high-speed Internet service. Additionally, a Request for Proposals will be released on Friday, December 7th, to begin the process of distributing funds that were allocated in this year’s budget for competitive grants to research, design and implement accessible Internet for unserved and underserved areas of rural and urban New York. Governor Spitzer made the announcement at the New York Farm Bureau’s Annual Meeting, held this year at the Niagara Falls Convention Center.

Increased access to broadband service combined with digital literacy programs can dramatically improve social, cultural and educational opportunities that ultimately lead to increased job creation and economic development. This Universal Broadband initiative is a key component of the First Lady’s I Live New York initiative aimed at attracting and retaining New York’s next generation.

“As we build an Innovation Economy we must make New York the most connected and technologically advanced place to live and do business in the world," said Governor Spitzer. "Internet access is no longer a luxury. We must implement a strategy that leads to every New Yorker having access to affordable, high-speed Internet so that they may take advantage of the economic, social and cultural opportunities it provides.”

Lieutenant Governor David A. Paterson said: "This new investment in the expansion of high speed internet access for our neglected urban and rural communities both narrows the digital divide and also moves us towards closing a long standing economic one. I am pleased that minority and women-owned enterprises, which have not gotten their fair shake at doing business with the state, will be required to take part in this work to make high-speed Internet available to more New Yorkers. The Governor and the First Lady, working together, are taking a significant step forward for real economic justice."

First Lady Silda Wall Spitzer said: “Developing innovative strategies and collaborative partnerships is at the core of our I Live New York initiative. At our September 18th summit, young people identified access to digital services as a key determinant in their decisions of where to live and work. I’m so pleased Dr. Mayberry-Stewart and the Broadband Council have taken the lead to expand broadband service across our state. Universal and affordable access to the tools of the 21st Century is paramount to keeping our next generation in New York and for our state’s competitiveness on the global stage.”

The Farm Bureau has called for bringing high speed internet access to underserved rural communities.

John Lincoln, President of New York Farm Bureau, said: "Farm Bureau has long recognized the need for broadband access in rural areas, where most of our members do business. Broadband is an essential business tool that our farmers require to compete in a global economy. We are grateful that Governor Spitzer is taking this initiative as part of a bigger effort to revitalize the Upstate economy."

Patrick J. Foye, Empire State Development Downstate Chairman, said:"High speed internet connectivity has become a prerequisite for doing business in today’s global economy. Increasing its availability and affordability will help small businesses compete on a broader scale, assisting their growth and attracting dollars to New York. This major initiative will make it easier for individuals and businesses to achieve their potential."

The Council will recommend a comprehensive statewide strategy that charts a course towards affordable broadband access throughout the State. This approach will seek to leverage existing resources, consider new ways to extend high-speed Internet access beyond traditional means, and recommend approaches to increase digital literacy in underserved urban and rural communities.

The Council will be chaired by New York State Chief Information Officer and Director of the New York State Office for Technology, Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart.

Dr. Mayberry-Stewart said: “The importance of developing a statewide broadband strategy cannot be overstated. Through strong collaborative public/private partnerships we can create an environment across New York State that fosters innovation, life-long learning and economic growth through greater use of technology. Governor Spitzer has a clear vision to address our challenge and I look forward to working with the Council to develop cooperative, innovative solutions for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

Public/private partnerships will provide communities across New York State with access to high-speed Internet service and computer literacy programs needed to be competitive in today’s dynamic, technology-driven world. With increased broadband access and improved computer literacy, New Yorkers can take full advantage of resources available online around the clock, and from around the world. More and more of New York’s government services can be accessed online. These include applying for home energy assistance or tuition assistance, conducting job searches or posting career opportunities, renewing a professional license, or searching for shovel-ready building sites. Today, more than 350 state government services and transactions are available on the Internet.

The New York State Council for Universal Broadband includes the following representatives:

Patricia Acampora, Chairwoman, New York State Department of Public Service
Stephen Acquario, Executive Director, New York State Association of Counties
Peter Baynes, Executive Director, New York Conference of Mayors
Thomas Bodden, Manager of Research and Information, Association of Towns of the State of New York
Michael Borges, Executive Director, New York Library Association
Dr. Joseph Bowman, Member, New York State Board of Regents
Sharon Cates-Williams, Commissioner, Suffolk County Department of Information Technology
Robert Checca, Commissioner, Nassau County Department of Information Technology
Paul Cosgrave, Commissioner, New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications
RoAnn Destito, Member, New York State Assembly
Brian Fischer, Commissioner, New York State Department of Correctional Services
Patrick Foye, Co-Chair, Empire State Development Corporation
Paul Francis, Director, New York State Division of the Budget
Dan Gundersen, Co-Chair, Empire State Development Corporation
David Hansell, Commissioner, New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance
Edward Hemminger, President, New York State Local Government Information Technology Directors Association
Patrick Hooker, Commissioner, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Dr. Donald Jacobs, Co-Chair, USNY Technology Policy and Practices Council
Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, University at Albany – College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering
John Kolb, Chief Information Officer, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovation
Dr. Timothy Lance, President and Chairman, New York State Education and Research Network
Howard Lowe, Director of the Technical Assistance Center, SUNY Plattsburgh
Steve Manning, Manager of Computer Services, Greater Southern Tier BOCES Regional Information Center
Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, Chief Information Officer, New York State (Council Chair)
Bernie McGarry, Program Director, New York State Senate
Richard Mills, Commissioner, New York State Education Department
Shireen Mitchell, President & Executive Director, Community Technology Centers’ Network
Edward Reinfurt, Executive Director, New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation
Patricia Smith, Commissioner, New York State Department of Labor

The 2007-08 New York State budget appropriated $5,000,000 to provide seed money through competitive grants to promote research, design and implementation of innovative solutions to affordable Internet access for underserved urban and rural communities. Grant applications will be accepted from eligible communities and organizations that create public/private partnerships to meet the strategic goals of the Council.

The strategic goals include:

      • Supporting the “I Live New York” initiative to attract and retain New York’s next generation by ensuring every New Yorker has access to high-speed, affordable broadband
      • Providing all New Yorkers with access to high-speed, affordable broadband Internet access for resident and businesses from anywhere, at anytime, by anyone
      • Fostering economic development and building stronger public/private partnerships
      • Creating jobs through innovative community-based digital literacy and technology training programs, including household technology adoption and support
      • Closing the digital divide and Increasing digital literacy levels in unserved and underserved urban and rural communities
      • Accelerating the use of state e-Government services offered through the Internet for residents, businesses and visitors

The New York State Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office for Technology will issue grant applications before the end of the year and administer the broadband access grant program.

The full text of Governor Spitzer’s remarks will be made available at:

2007 Press Releases