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NEW YORK — Free broadband access will be available to thousands of New Yorkers within the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) by this year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday.

About 40,000 NYCHA residents at 18 NYCHA developments across the five boroughs will receive internet access under the city’s master plan to provide broadband service to New Yorkers.

By March 2022, the city plans to connect 75,000 New Yorkers to free internet, and up to 1.6 million residents will have access to affordable broadband by 2024, the mayor added.

“Broadband, anyone who used to think it’s a luxury now understands it’s a necessity,” the mayor said, referencing how everyday activities and tasks, including participating in the job market, accessing remote learning and telemedicine all need internet access.

“It is crucial,” the mayor said, adding that the majority of those impacted were lower-income communities, immigrant communities and communities of color.

This move is the largest step any city across the country has done to close the digital divide, according to the city’s Chief Technology Officer John Paul Farmer. 

“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that broadband access is essential to our daily lives,” Sideya Sherman NYCHA Executive Vice President for Community Engagement and Partnerships said. 

The city introduced the internet master plan in 2020 to start fixing the issue foundationally.

Earlier this year, the mayor declared 2021 the year of 5G and high-speed broadband for the city.