As New York City continues to work to close the digital divide, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Wednesday plans to expand the city’s internet and broadband access.
The city has released a request for proposals that invite the telecommunications industry to create affordable broadband service with access of up to 100,000 of the city’s assets, with priority to underserved areas.
The request will reach about 600,000 New Yorkers, including 200,000 NYCHA residents.
“All New Yorkers deserve affordable Internet access, no matter their zip code,” said Mayor de Blasio.
“With this historic effort to invest in broadband and 5G infrastructure, we are making tremendous strides toward closing the digital divide once and for all.”
According to the mayor, 2021 will be the “year of 5G for all.”
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to break the status quo,” he said.
To allow NYC to become a leader in 5G, the Department of Transportation and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications will work to make 7,500 street poles available to mobile telecommunications franchises to install 5G.
Putting 75% of poles in the city’s outer boroughs and areas above 96th Street in Manhattan would ensure equitable distribution, particularly in neighborhoods that are historically underserved and under-connected.
About 18% of New Yorkers, or about 1.5 million people, do not have home or mobile internet connection, according to the city’s Internet Master Plan.
Those without internet were negatively impacted during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to lack of access to jobs, training, education and health resources from home.