Gigabit project adds former Obama adviser

By Ryan Deffenbaugh

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A public-private partnership between the Westchester County Association and the county’s four largest cities to bring ultra high speed internet to to the county will be helped by an adviser who served in two presidential administrations.

Blair Levin, a former staffer under presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, will join the Gigabit Westchester initiative as a voluntary adviser, the Westchester County Association announced Monday.

Levin served in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2010, overseeing the development of the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Plan. During the Clinton administration, Levin was chief of staff to the chairman of the FCC.

“As we embark on the three- to five-year process of bringing gigabit broadband to Westchester’s four largest cities, his advice and counsel will be invaluable,” said Westchester County Association President and CEO William Mooney Jr.

The Westchester County Association announced the initiative on Oct. 6. The $750 million plan would bring internet about 20 times faster than basic broadband to White Plains, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle and Yonkers.  While major details such as funding and who will provide and maintain the service have to be worked out, officials with the project say the increased internet speeds could provide a boost across multiple sectors of the county’s economy.

Levin is the executive director of Gig. U: The Next Generation Network Innovation Project, a group of more than 30 leading universities working to accelerate the deployment of ultra high speed networks to their schools and surrounding communities.

Levin will speak at a Westchester County Association luncheon in Tarrytown Nov. 10.

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About the author

Ryan Deffenbaugh covers energy, education, food and beverage and the Sound Shore for the Westchester County Business Journal. He previously worked for Westchester Magazine and The Citizen daily newspaper (Auburn, N.Y.). He started with the Westchester County Business Journal in March 2016.

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