Thursday, November 12, 2015

Comcast hearing minus cat food

Blame the Queen of Spades: RantWoman hoped to attend the hearing for public comment about the Comcast franchise in person. However, RantWoman hit a couple topical transportation snags. RantWoman did not want to drag freshly purchased cat food to the city council hearing and decided it is actually on point to speak about substituting two-way connectivity for some of the travel clogging our region's roads. True, RantWoman does not drive so she mainly clogs busses designed to cut down the clogging by automobiles.  This take time, time RantWoman decided would be better used crafting some coherent personal comments. #seatechboard

Here is the video from the hearing. RantWoman notes some STUNNING accounts of cable company rapaciousness in the testimony.
Seattle City Council Public Safety and Technology committee hearing Nov 12 2015

Here are the comments RantWoman submitted to Council Member Harrell:

Dear Council Member Harrell and members of the Seattle City Council..

I sometimes introduce myself as a CTAB groupie. At one point I appliedto join and was turned but I have appreciated the opportunity to attend the meetings as amember of the public and to participate in
different committees charied by CTAB members.

I am watching the Public Safety Civil Rights, and Technology committee hearing from a community technology center that gets internet service through the city's free program. I want to acknowledge the important of this connection both for my convenience, saving the time needed to travel, ability to share the hearing with interested neighbors, many of whom find it very difficult to travel and would love to be able to participate more in public dialogues via internet connections.

I apologize in advance for typos: I have turned off my screen reader in order more completely to pay attention to the hearing but my very impaired vision is decidedly unreliable as far as proofreading.

I also want to thank Comcast for continuing work to increase theaccessibility of its services: I particularly hope that some of the audio controls available only to Xfinity customers can be expanded to everyone who receives Comcast services.

I want to attest to the value of community connection for myself. About 10 years ago after a lifetime of impaired vision, I became legally blind. After the medical events involved it took time to line
up vocational rehabilitation services, to figure out ways to leverage my life experiences and to acquire experience managing small community projects through the Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple projects. These project helped me figure out what I can do, how to be productive with assistive technology, and how to contribute to my community through connections aimed at digital inclusion and transportation issues.

I want to attest to the value for my community of this connection. Atour center, besides access to assistive technology, job search, job readiness, for residents and for caregivers who work in the building. Internet access for the caregivers of low income residents is one important reason we are open to the public. Caregivers, like their client are often low income, reliant on public transportation, and in need of digital inclusion to address many of the same issues their clients face. Merely being able to stop by after work is a HUGE convenience for these people.

I want to thank Cicily Nordnes for speaking about the value of internet connections for residents of Seattle Housing Authority. Seattle Housing Authority manages several communities across the city. Residents arrive with very different  levels of computer skills and comfort with technology, but the free connection and access to training including projects funded by the Technology matching fund
help enable residents to build community across the city, to collaborate about common problems and issues, and to learn from each other as residents of different buildings have taken different kinds
of projects.

At the STAR Center we also offer really simple community. Some of our residents have very severe disabilities and do not have computers at home. But they come to our center to listen to library books on DVD or to watch music and experience shared community. In one case it makes a big difference just that someone can help adjust headphones that fall off frequently.

We have also been pleased in the past to collaborate with other community programs. The Seattle Public Schools Exploratory Internship program helps prepare transition age youth with special needs for adult life and computer training helped an umber of participants in our program increase independence and find jobs. We also participated in capacity building programs such as the Seattle Youth Job Readiness Program and partnered with Open Doors for Multicultural families, an
organization that provides vital educational and training services for immigrant parents with special needs children.

I want to speak to the need for internet access throughout the city. I particularly want to call out support for students doing homework, at home and in the places where they go after school including
grandparents, community centers, and other locations. I urge that the franchise agreement expand the internet essentials to senior housing.
I also encourage Comcast, the city real estate developers using tax credit funds to make provisions for automatic discount internet access for people who are in tac credit buildings and tax credit units within mixed income buildings.

I absolutely support increasing access to culturally diverse content: There are many may households in Seattle where the primary language is something other than English. When these households are cable customers, they should have the option in the basic plan to choose some channels that broadcast in the household's primary language. I would love provision for this to be included in the Franchise
agreement would strongly encourage Comcast to consider this voluntarily even if it does not wind up in the franchise agreement.

I also want to speak to the customer service and upselling practices several speakers at this hearing have addressed. One of my many past lives featured some remote tech support and I can attest that
in-network trouble shooting is much easier than having to jump through many network and customer service hoops to accomplish simple tasks. I should not have to do English to English relay when my mother cannot understand staff at an overseas call center. At the same time, people who need service in Tagalog or Hindi or any of the over 100 languages spoken in Seattle should be able to expect to have the terms of their agreement explained clearly in language they can understand, with accurate statement of what the monthly bill including taxes and fees will be.

As the line between television and internet services changes, I want city technology programs to invest in people, community connections, not just technology!

Thank you for holding this hearing and I will be interested to see how the franchise agreement evolves.

speaking for myself from the STAR of Seattle.

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