New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City would spend the next three years building publicly-owned broadband infrastructure serving 1.6 million residents while partnering on immediate-term affordable internet connectivity for more than 250,000 residents.


“Broadband isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity,” De Blasio said in a press release. “We are closing the digital divide and bringing our city into the 21st century by reaching communities most in need.”


Through its Internet Master Plan, announced in January 2020, New York City intends to reverse the digital redlining that has left disenfranchised communities disconnected. Initially, it intended to use a $70 million investment to push universal broadband access. It got an $87 million boost in July 2020 to accelerate the plan, including to fund short-term connectivity initiatives.


Currently, New York City is attempting to bring free or low-cost internet connectivity options for up to 40,000 residents in 18 housing authority developments by the end of the year, with future initiatives to deliver internet to an additional 70,000 public housing residents by early 2022 and 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,” Deputy Mayor for Administration and Chief of Staff Emma Wolfe said in a press release. “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.”


Ultimately, the city plans to invest $157 million to build new open-access infrastructure while providing incentives for internet service providers, especially those locally owned by minorities or women, to provide service to unserved neighborhoods.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.