October 28, 2021 – NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the largest step of any city in American history toward providing affordable broadband for all. Through its Internet Master Plan, New York City will be the first city in the nation to reverse the digital redlining that has left communities of color disconnected, ensure that M/WBEs share in the economic growth of the broadband industry, and incentivize at scale high-quality affordable internet service options for New Yorkers.
“Broadband isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are closing the digital divide and bringing our city into the 21st century by reaching communities most in need.”
Today, the City is announcing that it will reach up to 1.6 million New Yorkers in the next 36 months by using $157 million to build publicly owned, open-access broadband infrastructure. The City is also designating a wide range of companies — large and small, including multiple M/WBEs — to provide fast, reliable, and affordable connectivity options to an additional 70,000 NYCHA residents and 150,000 residents in the surrounding communities by early 2022.
Already, the City is in the process of bringing free or low-cost internet connectivity options for up to 40,000 residents in 18 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments by the end of the year. This historic initiative brings newly affordable connectivity to a majority of NYCHA residents, with options to further scale affordable broadband to all neighborhoods citywide.
“The City is taking unprecedented action to make sure that the digital divide soon becomes a thing of the past,” said Deputy Mayor for Administration and Chief of Staff Emma Wolfe. “We’re not just connecting New Yorkers to the internet. With the City’s investment in both connectivity and new infrastructure, we’re ensuring that affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service will be possible well into the future.”
“The Internet Master Plan proves that government can leverage its vast resources to bring affordable, essential Broadband services and infrastructure to those who need it most” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “The Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity was proud to support this strategic investment that will greatly benefit our target communities most impacted by decades of disinvestment.”
“No matter your zip code, every New Yorker deserves an equal opportunity to participate in building our shared future,” said New York City Chief Technology Officer John Paul Farmer. “The New York City Internet Master Plan has enabled the Big Apple’s unprecedented progress in promoting digital equity and making that idealistic vision a practical reality. New York City’s bold new approach delivers cross-sector partnerships, incorporates cutting-edge technologies, upgrades performance, and ensures affordability for residents and businesses. That is how we are transforming the broadband marketplace.”
“Broadband access and adoption is the foundation of our modern economy and how we interact and engage with society,” said New York City Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Broadband, Aaron Meyerson. “Through the implementation of the City’s Internet Master Plan, we are building a new path forward and ensure broadband for all. I’m extremely proud of my team and all the partnerships we’ve built across City agencies and the private sector to make connectivity for all New Yorkers a reality.”
“This program is a model for ensuring that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet. New York is proof positive that this kind of equitable infrastructure development is a critical component of what it means to Build Back Better,” said Dr. Alondra Nelson, Deputy Director for Science and Society, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “That’s why the Biden-Harris Administration so values the vision and partnership of Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City.”
“Many communities hardest hit by COVID have experienced longstanding health and socioeconomic inequities, including a lack of access to affordable and reliable broadband internet,” said Sideya Sherman, Executive Director of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity. “This disparity is the result of digital redlining. With today’s announcement, the City is driving equity and righting this historic wrong.”
“In today’s landscape, providing equitable access to internet service is essential for improving the quality of life and pathways to opportunity for our residents,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ. “Over the past year, we have made tremendous strides in expanding affordable broadband options for public housing communities, and we are excited to work with the City as well as our public and private partners in bringing a robust digital infrastructure to even more NYCHA campuses in the years to come.”
“We are thrilled these latest milestones implementing the Internet Master Plan continue to increase digital access for communities that need it the most,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb. “Now more than 250,000 New Yorkers, including NYCHA residents, will have access to new, affordable, high-speed internet options and we are excited to continue to work with our City Partners on advancing the City’s Internet Master Plan.”
“Providing equitable access to broadband is critical to the City’s economic growth and recovery,” said Jonnel Doris, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Now more than ever, small business owners and job seekers in underserved communities are relying on the internet to effectively participate in our economy. SBS was proud to be an integral part of this initiative, which levels the playing field for customers, opens the door to smaller providers, and diversifies the City’s digital service pool. This is a win for everyone.”
“Broadband connectivity is increasingly important for the activities that help people lead productive and healthy lives,” said Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer. “By investing in broadband infrastructure the City is investing in the future, including the ability to deliver government services efficiently. DDC is prepared to support this important work however possible.””
“This past year has revealed that while greenspaces and parks are essential, so too is reliable access to affordable internet,” said New York City Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. “With this latest announcement, we are proud to be part of this administration’s Internet Master Plan and will continue to do our part to expand broadband infrastructure into our city’s parks and greenspaces where possible.”
“The last 20 months have made clear what we’ve long known – fast, reliable, and affordable broadband is not a luxury, it’s an essential utility for learning, working, public health, and to ensure all people can thrive,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “From pioneering publicly owned open-access broadband infrastructure to increasing competition between ISPs, these pathbreaking steps by New York City to close the digital divide marks a milestone in advancing the promise of equity in broadband access.”
“The pandemic has permanently altered the role of broadband, and access to it, as essential infrastructure for individuals, communities, governments and small businesses to function in today’s digital world,” said Michael Froman, Vice Chairman and President of Strategic Growth for Mastercard. “Yet millions of households across the country do not have access and many small businesses lack the digital skills or education to leverage online services. Mastercard is committed to working with local governments, telcos and small business owners to ensure we obtain ubiquitous access to broadband and foster digital skills development as a critical step toward achieving a more equitable and inclusive society where opportunity exists for all.”
“20 years ago, then-Councilman Bill de Blasio recognized how important broadband access is for all New Yorkers to learn, work, and participate in the 21st century economy” said Andrew Rasiej, Co-founder of Civic Hall. “With today’s announcement Mayor Bill de Blasio is making his vision of a more fair and equitable online future for all a public priority and reality.”