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Letters to the Editor March 17

March 16, 2016

Broadband should be classified as public service

“In today’s world, internet connectivity is no longer a luxury—it is a necessity. Broadband is as vital a resource as running water and electricity to New York’s communities and is absolutely critical to the future of our economy, education, and safety.... Millions of New Yorkers are either limited to target broadband speeds or have no access to broadband at all, creating a gap in the ability of some communities to participate in the global economy.” — the NYS Broadband for All website: https://www.ny.gov/programs/broadband-all

“Public service is a service which is provided by government to people living within its jurisdiction, either directly (through the public sector) or by financing provision of services. Public services are seen as so important that for moral reasons their universal provision should be guaranteed.” — Wikipedia.

Electric and telephone service are regulated as public services.

Clearly, New York State recognizes that Internet connectivity is a necessity. According to the website noted above, the state has proposed the “largest and boldest state investment in universal broadband deployment in the nation.” Time Warner will be part of the initiative. But they have until 2018 to connect rural areas, and apparently prefer to use up all that time before connecting areas more expensive to reach, like ours. Time Warner is a monopoly in our area, one that has returned billions of dollars to investors over the past few years. As a supplier of telephone service, the corporation is among the 537 telecommunications companies regulated by the New York Public Service Commission. But broadband is not legally a public service.

Don’t the statements about broadband quoted above fit the definition of public service? Shouldn’t broadband, and Time Warner as a broadband supplier, become recognized by the New York State legislature as a public service and fall under the PSC’s jurisdiction to be regulated as such?

Roy Tedoff
Hortonville, NY