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BCW Program Tackles Challenges Facing Broadband/5G Connectivity

The challenges facing broadband and 5G was the focus of recent highly informative and timely virtual conference held by the Business Council of Westchester featuring a panel of experts. The panel included Sanjay Udani, Vice President for Policy for Verizon; Ana Rua, who leads New York Government Affairs City & State Strategy at Crown Castle; John Horrigan, Senior Fellow for the Benton Institute for Broadband Society; Assemblywoman Amy Paulin; and Bob Knight, CEO and Managing Partner of Harrison Edwards. The program was moderated by BCW Executive Vice President and COO John Ravitz.

Udani provided an overview of the evolution of broadband and 5G. “The way that 5G is designed you can now have up to a million devices in a square kilometer and all of them to be streaming content, receiving content doing things as opposed to with the older technologies. With this, we now have the capability to handle millions of devices in a very small area,” he said.

Rua noted that New York State leads the nation in both mobile connectivity and wired connectivity. “New York State is the only state in the nation that has 98% availability of connectivity, and that was because the state made an extraordinary and robust investment of nearly a billion dollars which is unprecedented.”

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who is Chair of the Assembly Corporations, Authorities & Commissions Committee, discussed 2022 legislative broadband priorities. She said that last year she introduced legislation that was later included in the budget, which ensures that affordable broadband services available to all low-income New Yorkers by requiring broadband service providers to offer low-cost broadband services to low-income customers.

Horrigan said there is a significant variation around the state in terms of accessibility broadband. “It’s true that it is a problem in some urban areas. It’s also significant in rural areas. There are rural areas where you have people who do not subscribe to broadband simply because they can’t afford it. So, addressing the affordability issue is something to worry about in urban and rural areas in the state.”

Knight discussed the role of partnerships between government, private industry and the business community in advancing broadband. He said you have to start thinking creatively. “There’s plenty of money out there. There are plenty of ways to finance broadband networks, whether they’re publicly financed, whether it’s the private sector, or whether it’s public private partnerships. It’s just a matter of choices,” he said.

Concluding the program, Ravitz said, “There’s a lot of work to do to make sure that we close this digital divide, there are a lot of challenges that we have to face. But more importantly, there’s a lot of really important positive things that can come from this — getting people to have the most updated service that they need, and businesses need to compete in this economic world.”

The program was sponsored by Verizon and Crown Castle. To view the complete program, visit www.thebcw.org

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