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Government The Internet

Free Broadband For NYC Public Housing? 250

First time accepted submitter nomad63 (686331) writes "Earlier this week, the NY Times reported that a group of city and leaders, with NYC public advocate Letitia James at the helm, are pushing for a commitment from Comcast to provide free broadband to the city's public housing and to extend its low-cost Internet Essentials plan (which was created as a condition of the NBC deal). While New York City might be the center of finance and commerce in the U.S., about 1/3 of households don't have an Internet connection, highlighting the huge "digital divide" between the city's wealthy residents and those who can't afford broadband service.In addition to the free service for public housing, the group wants gratis access at shelters for the city's homeless and its victims of domestic violence."
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Free Broadband For NYC Public Housing?

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  • 1, isn't this a dupe?
    2, how about free internet access for all? it would be a genuinely useful thing for a local government to provide, and it would help them stay in touch with the citizenry. My net access still sucks, they're going to have a better connection than I am most likely

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      2, how about free internet access for all?

      Because this is NYC. You know, the land of "Fuck everybody else, as long as we have a deal."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by uncqual ( 836337 )

      2, how about free internet access for all?

      Because this is impossible.

      Someone has to pay for purchasing, installing, and maintaining cables in the ground/undersea, switches, routers, head ends, etc. (And, being government provided, likely means the associated labor would have to be Union in many areas which will increase the costs).

      I assume you are you offering to pick up the cost. (You must be very wealthy although I don't recall seeing drinkypoo on Forbes 100 list, but I assume you're Bill Gates or someone

      • Right now, if your house is burning down, you can call the fire department, and they put it out free of charge. It's a government service that is paid for, usually primarily by tax dollars and rarely by specific usage fees.

        Most government services are paid for by a combination of usage fees, general fees, usage taxes, and general taxes. For instance, transportation is paid for about fifty percent from usage taxes (like gas taxes) and about fifty percent from general taxes, with a bit also paid for by usag

        • by uncqual ( 836337 )

          It's true that Police, and usually Fire, services are included in your tax bill (directly or perhaps indirectly if you're a renter for example). However, these are not easily "metered" utility services. And, at least on some areas, you will get a bill from the City if you call the Paramedics come to your house unless you pay an annual subscription fee. These services are also for the common good (the person who calls the police is not the one that necessarily benefits from getting the murderer off the stree

          • It's true that Police, and usually Fire, services are included in your tax bill (directly or perhaps indirectly if you're a renter for example). However, these are not easily "metered" utility services.

            Most directly, many municipalities will fine you for making more than X frivolous 911 calls in Y period of time.
            They may even officially stop responding to calls from that address.
            In extreme cases, you can get prosecuted.

            Phantom calls (hang ups, butt dials, etc) have also caused police forces set policies for (aka meter) which 911 calls they will respond to.
            311 centers are also another way of metering access to the police, by diverting non-emergency calls to a lower priority queue.

            Your usage of police servi

  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @02:52PM (#48288447)

    And still misses the real issue here. If you want to narrow the "Digital Divide" stop granting monopolies to companies like Comcast. Once you have some real competition in the market there's no reason that people who need the internet won't be able to buy it for themselves.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazi... [bbc.com]

    Is there any reason that internet in NYC should cost 4 times what it does in Zurich or Seoul, except and exploitative monopoly ? The U.S. has places were the population density will make any kind of communication service more expensive but NYC is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet and is not one of them.

    • If you want to narrow the "Digital Divide"

      This would create a new digital divide . . . those who pay for their Internet usage . . . and those who don't.

      First come public housing . . . and then city shelters . . . who's next . . . ?

      This deal is great for Comcast . . . they will get new subscribers, who would otherwise have not signed up with them. The costs will be passed on to paying customers.

      This deal is great for the NYC government . . . because city agencies will not have to pay for their Internet anymore. Again, the costs will be passed o

  • Good idea (Score:3, Informative)

    by K8Fan ( 37875 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @02:53PM (#48288459) Journal
    You can't even apply for a job at Burger King without an Internet connection these days.
    • Re:Good idea (Score:5, Informative)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @04:26PM (#48288931)

      You can't even apply for a job at Burger King without an Internet connection these days.

      There are free Internet connected computers at the public library, available for anyone to use. The lack of free Internet is not stopping anyone from getting a job.

      • By that same token, if the nearest major grocery store is an hour bus ride away from an inner-city neighborhood, that distance is not actually STOPPING poor residents from getting affordable fresh fruit, but it is making it incredibly difficult for them.

        Likewise, there are libraries here, but they usually have a one hour time-limit, limited to one or two hours per day. In theory, a poor student isn't being stopped from using the internet, but it might be very difficult for them to do compared to someone wh

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        How many computers do the public libraries in these areas have, and how many people want to use them? I have no idea, but a relative works in a public library and the computers are always fully booked by job seekers and people trying to interact with the government. Time is strictly limited and they always complain that they can't get everything done.

        Companies and apparently the government love to make people use the internet because it lowers their costs, but there are not enough public computers to go aro

        • there are not enough public computers to go around.

          Then maybe we should be putting more computers in libraries, where (as you said) they are used 100% of the time, rather than putting them in public housing where they may be used 5% of the time.

          Most libraries provide free WiFi in addition to terminals, and many people bring their own devices. So there is less contention for the terminals.

  • Not enough (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <`richardprice' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday November 01, 2014 @02:57PM (#48288485)

    Free quality education, free quality medical care and free child care would help more.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by ganjadude ( 952775 )
      sure, and free food, free electricity, lets throw in a free car while we are at it.

      Free- that word - you keep using it. I dont think it means what you think it does
      • Re:Not enough (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @03:29PM (#48288673) Homepage Journal

        sure, and free food, free electricity, lets throw in a free car while we are at it.

          Free- that word - you keep using it. I dont think it means what you think it does

        You look like one of those conservabots who searches for every use of the word "Free" and is compelled to add, "It's not free, we pay taxes for it."

        Well, yes, that's the point. There are some services like education, medical care and child care that are cheaper and more efficient for the government to deliver, so we pay for it collectively out of taxes. When we left it to the free market, it failed.

        When we leave education to the free market, children are illiterate. When we leave medical care to the free market, people who can't afford to pay for it die. In fact, even rich people are worse off when they're the only ones who can afford health care.

        • Children are illiterate now, even with free public education.
        • by uncqual ( 836337 )

          There are some services like education, medical care and child care that are cheaper and more efficient for the government to deliver

          Is this why there are relatively few areas in the US where people with money send their kids to public schools? Is it likely that these people prefer an inferior education for their kids and are willing to shell out a lot of money for that while still paying taxes for superior educational services they have chosen not to use? Hmm... Sounds unlikely to me. My, admittedly limite

          • by nbauman ( 624611 )

            Every developed country in the world provides free public education to children.

            There are some countries like England where the rich send their children to private schools, but that's more for making social connections than for the better education.

            And in the US, the main reason for sending children to private schools is to have them grow up among a wealthy class rather than to associate with the working class.

            That's the main reason for private schools, and in the US, the public school movement got its big

            • by Shados ( 741919 )

              A lot of people in the US will send their kids to private school just because they want them in a school that's allowed to kick people out. If there's a public school that can, like what you mentioned for NYC, then sure, that's fine. But in this society of entitled lawyer-happy parents, an average american public school is very very bleh. It has nothing to do with funding, and everything to do with legal liability and not being able to properly deal with problem kids of parents who aren't willing to raise t

              • by nbauman ( 624611 )

                Parents don't want their own kids to get kicked out. They want other kids to get out.

                It sounds very nice to kick out kids who are deliberately being disruptive or not trying, but everybody in education knows that what makes running a school difficult is that a certain percentage of kids are going to be difficult to teach, usually through no fault of their own.

                For example, early premature infants usually have damaged brains, and they range from being blind, unable to sit up, and unable to recognize people ar

          • There are some services like education, medical care and child care that are cheaper and more efficient for the government to deliver

            Is this why there are relatively few areas in the US where people with money send their kids to public schools? Is it likely that these people prefer an inferior education for their kids and are willing to shell out a lot of money for that while still paying taxes for superior educational services they have chosen not to use? Hmm... Sounds unlikely to me. My, admittedly limited, sample set of people I know who do choose to pay to send their kids to private school certainly don't do it because they are seeking an inferior education for their spawn.

            That's strange, since 90% of elementary and secondary school students in the US are enrolled in public schools [huffingtonpost.com].

            I know, dealing with facts is just so damned inconvenient when those facts contradict your biases. It's a shame, you were on a roll.

          • The rich opting out of public education (and taking their money with them) is a primary cause of the failure of the US education system. Education spending should be per capita not a fraction of city budget.
            • by rossz ( 67331 )

              So they illegally stop paying their taxes when they pull their kid in a private school? I don't think so.

    • Re:Not enough (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @03:21PM (#48288627) Homepage Journal

      Friedrich Hayek, The Road to Serfdom:

              Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance – where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks – the case for the state's helping to organize a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.... Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself nor make the provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      And this won't be possibly like it is in other countries until there's some visibility/control in who gets in and qualify for these things. All you can eat buffets don't work so hot if you leave the door open.

    • by nbauman ( 624611 )

      Free quality education, free quality medical care and free child care would help more.

      You mean like all the other industrial democracies?

  • Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Saturday November 01, 2014 @02:59PM (#48288501) Homepage

    t seems to me that if you're going to give a company a de facto monopoly of both television distribution and Internet, it would be a fair trade-off to require that they provide a very basic level of service to poor people for free. We can quibble over the details, but for example, providing the over-the-air channels and a 1mbps symmetrical connection seems fair.

    These companies don't like to admit it, but they're providing exclusive access to public infrastructure. I think they should be counting their lucky stars that they're not as regulated as other utilities.

  • We'll give you Free Broadband at the lowest tier, feel free to pay for fast lanes later.

    And since we're grateful enough to get more business, you need to legalize extortion if we do it.

    Deal?
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @03:16PM (#48288591)

    What they should do is put together a municipal broadband system and let the citizenry choose.

    • by silfen ( 3720385 )

      That is certainly better than making municipal broadband a monopoly. However, in practice, municipal broadband ends up not being run like a business; it gets both direct and indirect subsidies (including favorable treatment in zoning and right-of-way issues). Most private businesses would likely choose not to compete with that, unless it is so awful that you might as well not have it.

      What can work is provide minimal services for free to everybody; not "municipal broadband" as in "we provide all your Interne

  • Use taxes for this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @03:23PM (#48288643)

    I wish governments would use taxes to pay for benefits for the poor instead of making us pay through hidden costs by forcing companies to give "free" or reduced cost services, which are made up for in higher fees for the service. The same goes for "affordable housing" where developers have to provide reduced cost housing, which is paid for in higher cost of housing for everyone else.

    I have no problem with providing benefits, but If governments want to provide these benefits, then provide them through taxes where they are shared among all taxpayers (why should a Comcast customer pay to subsidize "free" interenet for the poor, while an AT&T UVerse customer does not?), everyone can see what they are paying to the full cost of providing these benefits is known, and the local taxes are tax deductible themselves.

    • And i wish governments would get out of the way in excess of what is needed to create a thriving society that all can participate in and the poir can litterally lift themselves out of poverty as soon as they understand what does not work.

      Lets keep whishing and complaining because your vision is incompatible with mine and mine seems to take too much power from government to be a reality.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

      You could argue the same thing about universal phone or gas or electricity service. Even with internet access some customers cost more than others, but get charged the same.

      The idea is that in exchange for being allowed to have a monopoly, forcing you to pay whatever the charge because they are the only game in town, they have to do certain unprofitable things like provide service to remote areas or free service to certain poor households.

      Don't blame high prices on having to give out some freebies. They acc

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @04:33PM (#48288973)

    Simply an observation:

    When the geek posts about poverty or gender issues, he seems to come down somewhere to the right of Rush Limbaugh.

  • What the NY politicians are trying to do is make themselves look good to the public and to Comcast at the same time.

    In exchange for some minor concessions that make the politicians look good with the public they will simultaneously restrict competition resulting in higher rates for everyone else and increasing Comcast profits.

    Comcast was likely the ones who made this proposal to the NY politicians in the first place.

  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @05:05PM (#48289111)

    ... More free stuff.

    Lets assume we gave all the people in public housing 100 percent of everything they want/need free.

    Have we encouraged them or given them the opportunities to better their lives?

    Nope.

    Public housing should be seen as a temporary solution to temporary problems in a person's life. That or permanent if someone is very disabled which most of the people in PHing are not.

    People are raising SECOND generations of children in public housing. That is madness. Get these people out of public housing if they've been in it for more then a couple years.

    That might mean encouraging them to leave big cities they can't afford to live in. Tough. If you're poor, why would you think you can afford to live in places with high costs of living?

    PHing the way it is implemented is bad on so many levels. I almost don't know where to start with it.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )

      Hmm? Are you insinuating that giving cheap housing in locations that normally even upper middle class people can't afford, sometimes in houses that the same upper middle class would never dream of affording regardless of where they are located, is a bad idea?

      How dare you!

    • ... More free stuff.

      Lets assume we gave all the people in public housing 100 percent of everything they want/need free.

      Have we encouraged them or given them the opportunities to better their lives?

      Nope.

      Public housing should be seen as a temporary solution to temporary problems in a person's life. That or permanent if someone is very disabled which most of the people in PHing are not.

      People are raising SECOND generations of children in public housing. That is madness. Get these people out of public housing if they've been in it for more then a couple years.

      That might mean encouraging them to leave big cities they can't afford to live in. Tough. If you're poor, why would you think you can afford to live in places with high costs of living?

      PHing the way it is implemented is bad on so many levels. I almost don't know where to start with it.

      Absolutely correct. There has to be another way. And of course there is. I'd like to propose a solution. A proposal for preventing the poor people in the United States from being a burden to their parents or country. It would also make them beneficial to the public at-large. I've posted [art-bin.com] my thoughts online for public comment. I think we should push ahead with due haste, don't you?

      • Right because anything but the current model means I want to literally kill them and eat them.

        Jesus fucking Christ this sort of argument offensively retarded.

        • Right because anything but the current model means I want to literally kill them and eat them.

          Jesus fucking Christ this sort of argument offensively retarded.

          Satire [reference.com] motherfucker, do you get it?

          With apologies to Quentin Tarantino.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      That might mean encouraging them to leave big cities they can't afford to live in. Tough. If you're poor, why would you think you can afford to live in places with high costs of living?

      How is one supposed to get to work if one lives outside the reach of public transit?

      • ... This is like asking how one is to eat without McDonalds.

        How do you think everyone gets to work outside major cities? Do you think we go to work by training hamsters, making little carts out of sticks, discarded cans, and duct tape... and then getting them to move forward by tossing peanuts in front them?

        First off, small towns generally do have mass transit. Buses are very common.

        Second, for very small towns you don't need mass transit because you can literally just walk anywhere in the town in about 5 t

        • First off, small towns generally do have mass transit. Buses are very common.

          Buses in a particular city of about 200,000 people don't run at night, on Saturday evenings, or on Sundays. This can become hard for people who hear "We have no openings unless you're willing to work the night shift or on Sundays" from multiple employers. I imagine it's even worse in smaller towns, or what am I missing?

          for very small towns you don't need mass transit because you can literally just walk anywhere in the town in about 5 to 10 minutes.

          Yet other Slashdot users have kept telling me to move to a bigger city if no employers in my desired field are located in my city.

          Third, cars are not that expensive especially if you out of the big cities.

          A new driver still has to obtain the state-required 50 hours

          • 1. As to night buses... you can typically walk around small towns no trouble. And if you can't, cars are not expensive if you are prepared to buy a crap one. Illegal immigrants in Los Angeles can afford a car... IN the city of Los Angeles. Which means a poor person can afford a car in a small town.

            2. As to your desired field, that depends on what you're doing. If you want to be in the finance industry then you want to be in New York or Chicago. If you want to be in movies then it helps to be in Los Angeles.

          • Oh, I totally missed something. You said "night shift"... small towns often do not have a night shift. Around 10 pm or the whole town sleeps. I think there are night shift jobs for walmart and McDonalds. But that's about it. Everything else closes. And if you don't have a car and you need to use the bus... you don't take those jobs. It isn't a big deal. Compare unemployment rural, suburban, and urban. People get jobs just fine.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday November 01, 2014 @11:54PM (#48291023) Homepage Journal

    I'm on disabiliity in Saskatchewan, which is run by the same people as social services/welfare. I get an extra $200 a month compared to someone on welfare. I have a freezer full of food, wear nice (but not fancy name-brand) clothes, paid for my own glasses, and pay for an upgraded internet connection (mid-tier) as well as my landline. I have a modest single bedroom apartment, but not in one of the big apartment blocks where they gouge you on rent.

    A friend of mine is also on disability, and gets the same, but is in subsidized housing so her rent is $200 a month cheaper than mine. Yet while I can afford my internet and have $100/month left over for spending money, she's perpetually broke. Why? She smokes like a chimney.

    Most of the people I knew on social services or disability in Regina were also perpetually broke, because come pay day they'd buy a bottle of booze, a case of beer, and order a pizza instead of going shopping for food they could cook themselves.

    I know for a fact you can get by on what the programs provide -- I've done so for years. There is no excuse for "suffering" and "having no food" or "not being able to afford the internet". You choose to party it up, go out to bars, and buy frozen foods instead of learning to cook.

    So suffer.

    You'll not get one whit of sympathy from me.

    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      No, I'm not a "welfare king." I'm disabled after working 30+ years, and have been for about four years now. It took a good long year to learn to live within my budget, but I did it -- even though that budget is roughly 25% of what I used to earn.

      I completely disagree with giving things like free internet and free cell phones to people on welfare or disability. You can have those things if you get your priorities straight and give up the cigarettes, booze, and drugs.

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