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City of Albany and Community Partners Announce Working Group and Broadband Study to Assess Needs of Albany Businesses and Residents

July 02, 2015

Contact:  Matt Peter
Date: July 2, 2015
[email protected]
518-434-5100

For Immediate Release

ALBANY, NY – The City of Albany along with community partners today announced the formal creation of a Broadband Initiative Working Group along with the release of an RFP for a study to review the broadband needs of City residents and businesses. Broadband refers to the kinds of connections, such as cable, fiber, or wireless, used to connect people from their phones or computers through the Internet. 

The formation of the group and call for a study comes out of recommendations from the Mayor’s Transition team report and advocacy from business and community leaders. The working group that includes the Albany Public Library, the Downtown and Central Ave BIDS, the City School District of Albany, Green Tech Charter School, the Albany Housing Authority, Common Council Member Dan Herring, Albany Promise, the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, and Business Leaders.   

“This study will lay out the essentials of what we need to know about broadband service in the City,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “And it will provide a blueprint for how all the partners can move Albany broadband service forward in a cost-efficient and timely manner.”

The study has four goals:
• Assess the broadband landscape in Albany to determine the strengths and weaknesses of Internet access currently available in the City;
• Investigate the extent of a digital divide in Albany that prevents some residents from getting fast and affordable Internet service at home or elsewhere;
• Assess what is working, and what might be changed, to ensure all businesses in Albany have the connections necessary to compete in the 21st Century global marketplace;
• Recommend a prudent path, including funding opportunities, to ensure the City has a broadband network that is affordable and provides high-speed Internet access for all.

“The first step is asking the right questions, which is what we want this study to do,” says Jeff Mirel, Executive Vice President at The Rosenblum Companies in Albany and a technology professional. “What are the real broadband needs and issues that both businesses and residents experience here? Is it infrastructure, technology, education, affordability?  How do we address the gaps to not only keep and attract companies, but bring these employers and a connected local workforce together?  By taking a deep, comprehensive look at broadband access and usability, along with best practices, we can move towards meaningful, actionable strategies.” 

“Every day Albany Public Library acts as a digital safety net, bridging the digital divide by providing computers, printers, internet access, and Wi-Fi connections and teaching people how to use these technologies,” said Scott Jarzombek, Executive Director of Albany Public Library. “But there’s more we need to learn about the broadband landscape across the City, and we’re proud to participate in a project that will give us answers to some big questions.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity to partner with other organizations to review the needs of the city as we try to bring free or low-cost, high-speed Internet to the residents of Albany,” said Ginnie Farrell, president of the City School District of Albany Board of Education.

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Chartered in 1686, the City of Albany is the oldest continuously chartered city in the United States, and has been the State Capital since 1797. Although the City is the seat of State Government and a thriving center of education, culture and commerce, its real spirit lies in its diverse and vibrant neighborhoods. In January 2014 Kathy M. Sheehan became the City’s 75th Mayor.