On January 9th, 200 people attended a town hall at Oakland’s Preservation Hall to voice the need for an open and affordable internet and phone system. The event was organized by Free Press, the Center for Media Justice, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition. CAAM Executive Director Stephen Gong was also testified, urging FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to “support of policies that expand access to broadband for all Americans, especially those who are marginalized by geography, economics, language and ethnicity.”
Here’s the full text of his remarks:
My name is Stephen Gong, and I am the Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media. We produce and present documentary films on public television that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences.
Chairman Wheeler, in preparation for this testimony I found, online of course, a link to your recent remarks at The Ohio State University. I enjoyed your history lesson on the four great network revolutions (the printing press, the railroad, the telegraph, and now, connectivity). You pointed out that these revolutions transformed and unleashed ancillary and beneficial economic activity. Although in these remarks you didn’t make the point, I’m sure you would agree that the benefits of these networks were not equally shared by all – even those who played a key role in enabling their creation. Thus for example, the Chinese workers who conquered the Sierra Nevada for the Central Pacific railroad were in some respects rewarded by the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. My point is to underscore the vital importance of your regulatory responsibility to look after the interests of all citizens in this new age of interconnectivity, and especially for those who lack the access and leverage of wealth and privilege.
So today in the context of interconnectivity, I say broadband is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Affordable broadband is a building block for healthy communities, a competitive workforce, and an engaged and informed democracy. I urge your support of policies that expand access to broadband for all Americans, especially those who are marginalized by geography, economics, language and ethnicity. Thank you.
Read coverage of the event from Oakland Local: Oakland Voices town hall urges FCC to support telecom equity, affordability