Assemblymember Barrett Hosts Community Broadband Meeting

Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D – Columbia, Dutchess) hosted a community meeting on broadband access this morning at Columbia-Greene Community College. Her office invited staff members from the NY Broadband Program Office to provide county stakeholders with a presentation and a question & answer session regarding the state’s plan.

“I have heard the frustration of residents and businesses in the county and I know inadequate broadband service has held our communities back,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “The Governor has made a commitment to full coverage across New York, and I want to be sure Columbia County’s needs are understood and met by the state. By the same token, the county must be aware of and use all the tools at their disposal.”

Assemblymember Barrett’s office, in conjunction with the staff from the governor’s Broadband Program Office and the Public Service Commission, engaged elected officials, economic development leaders, and members of local broadband task forces in an open, thorough dialogue about the state’s broadband program in an effort to provide accurate information and dispel rumors that the state program won’t work for Columbia County.

"Governor Cuomo's leadership has made it possible for the most remote areas of the state to become active participants in the digital economy," said Empire State Development Executive Director of Broadband & Innovation Jeffrey Nordhaus. "We are continuing to work alongside our partners and stakeholders to shape the New NY Broadband Program, and thank Assemblywoman Barrett for the opportunity to further generate community support for this essential program."

“I thank Assemblywoman Barrett’s office for hosting the event, the state representatives of the Broadband Program and the Public Service Commission as well as Anne Muller from Congressman Gibson and my fellow Columbia County officials and committee members for coming together and clarifying the issues regarding the charter merger and the State plans for broadband,” said Gallatin Town Supervisor John Reilly. “The meeting clearly demonstrated that broadband is neither a partisan or political issue, but an urgent and basic utility need of the twin counties to operate in today's technological world. For the first time, local officials truly understood the impact of the Charter merger and were able to confirm that the federal funding plans recently undertaken by the Board of Supervisors could well complement the phase 1 and phase 2 funding potential by NY State, which will be further clarified following completion of the merger service expansion announcements next month. For the first time in two years, I think all parties are on the same path.

Connect Columbia thanks Assemblywoman Didi Barrett for arranging today's informative meeting with the NYS Broadband Program Office and the NYS Department of Public Service's Office of Telecommunications. The representatives on hand from these leading state agencies provided much needed clarification on both the terms of the Time Warner/Charter Communications merger, and Governor Cuomo's $500 million New NY Broadband program. Together they answered many pressing questions and reinforced their commitment to ensure that high speed broadband will be made available to resident in all corners of Columbia County in the coming years. With this information in hand, we look forward to partnering with officials of the state and county, and local residents from across the county to ensure these goals are met.

“I want to thank the governor’s staff for their thorough presentation and the community leaders and stakeholders for attending and contributing,” said Barrett, “In the end a positive dialogue was established, including next steps on how to best move the county forward and finally provide broadband for all.”