Just listen to Chuck Schumer’s accent and you can tell the influential U.S. Senator hasn’t strayed too far from his Brooklyn roots. You can hear the accent for yourself in the video above, shot in our our Fortune studio last week when Schumer dropped by to talk about the tech industry, including its impact on New York City.
“Wall Street still does pretty well—they’re growing but at a much slower rate. But the tech industry is our future,” said Schumer, pointing to the influx of engineers and companies the city has attracted in recent years.
He added, however, that New York still lacks sufficient broadband resources, and he thinks companies and the city’s mayor should pull out all the stops to ensure Internet access is everywhere. Schumer added this compelling story, drawn from his wife’s work in the public library system, to make the point:
“So you go to the South Bronx, one of the poorest neighborhoods, and after 6 pm the kids are huddled on the steps and around the walls of the library to get the bleed so they continue to get the WiFi.”
While the idea of universal, always-on WiFi is attractive, there’s still the question of how to create it and who should pay for it. While Google (GOOG) has thrown up free WiFi in the neighborhood of Chelsea, and a lower Manhattan neighborhood association is pumping out Internet access on certain streets, it’s still scarce in other areas.
Schumer says city governments can help expand broadband through tax credits, and suggested the FCC could support Internet infrastructure through fees.
Finally, Schumer suggested New York is becoming a real rival to Silicon Valley, especially as the tech industry moves from hardware evermore into software and advertising.
“The head of Google told me they get as much productivity, or more productivity, out of their 3000 people on 10th Avenue as they do in Mountain View,” he said.
Meanwhile, Schumer is also staying busy by working with his famous cousin Amy (of “Trainwreck” fame) on a gun control project. You can hear him talk about about that here.
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