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De Blasio Administration Releases Internet Master Plan For City's Broadband Future

January 7, 2020

First-in-nation plan provides roadmap to universal broadband; steps the City will take to close the digital divide

NEW YORK––Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chief Technology Officer John Paul Farmer today announced the New York City Internet Master Plan, a bold vision for affordable, high-speed, reliable broadband service across all five boroughs that offers seamless connectivity at home and on the go. The plan envisions a future for internet service in New York City, anchored in five principles––equity, performance, affordability, privacy and choice. With the release of the Master Plan, the de Blasio Administration charts a path for internet providers in the private sector to work in partnership with the City to address gaps in the market, close the digital divide and deliver universal broadband to all New Yorkers.

As part of the plan, the City will work with service providers that meet the City’s principles and expand its role across all broadband components by coordinating among permitting entities, optimizing City real estate like rooftops and lightpoles, and building fiber optic lines to connect City assets. The City will initiate the plan by issuing a Universal Solicitation for Broadband (USB) to steer the relationship between the City and the private sector toward universal service with a focus on covering areas of the City that currently lack connectivity. Read the plan here.

“Every New Yorker deserves easy, affordable access to the internet,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With the Internet Master Plan, we are giving notice to corporations that the days of creating a digital divide in our city are over. Providing equitable broadband service to all New Yorkers regardless of where they live or how much they make is vital to ensuring everyone has the basic tools they need to succeed.”

“All New Yorkers should have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet, regardless of their zip code or the size of their paycheck,” said Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin. “We will work closely with our partners in the private sector as we endeavor to end the digital divide in New York City and ensure internet access for all.”

“The Internet Master Plan is a brand new approach to breaking down the barriers to internet adoption in a city as large and as densely populated as New York City,” said Chief Technology Officer John Paul Farmer. “No New Yorker should be without affordable access to this critical 21stcentury technology. Now is the time for the private sector to get serious about working with the City to bring connectivity to all New Yorkers. No other city in the nation has introduced such a clear, strategic, and partner-focused roadmap to universal broadband.”

Current broadband subscription costs can be a burden on the budgets of low-income families. For example, 46% of New York City households living in poverty do not have broadband in the home. The Bronx has the highest percentage of residents without home broadband at almost 38%.

The digital divide in New York is considered a barrier to economic opportunity for residents and small businesses and a threat to long-term economic growth in the City. While many New Yorkers use a mobile connection and a home connection, New Yorkers increasingly need both connections to make full use of the internet. 40 percent of households do not have this level of connectivity today. 18 percent of residents – more than 1.5 million New Yorkers – have neither a mobile connection nor a home broadband connection. This significant portion of the City faces barriers to education, employment, banking, healthcare, social networks and government services that other residents do not.

Universal broadband that meets the City’s principles will transform the City with widespread economic benefits. Based on the City’s analysis of the economic impact of universal broadband, getting all New Yorkers connected and establishing equitable infrastructure citywide may result in up to 165,000 new jobs, a $49 billion increase in personal income, and $142 billion in incremental Gross City Product in 2045. While all New Yorkers will benefit from universal broadband, these impacts will be most dramatic for the people who are currently excluded from full participation in the digital economy.

“Internet access is no longer optional for families to succeed,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca. “We look forward to working with our agency partners and other stakeholders to help connect New Yorkers and build a fairer city for all as we help clarify policies for telecoms on approving the installation of wireless equipment.”

“DOT is proud to be part of the city’s new Internet Master Plan to help expand broadband and close the digital divide,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Our light poles will be crucial to the effort, as they are an electrical source found along almost every street in all five boroughs.  We look forward to having those poles play a new and creative role in bringing high-speed internet to communities that need it.”

“New York City's Internet Master Plan tackles the persistent digital divide in New York City head-on. We are excited to support this effort to ensure that all New Yorkers can take advantage of the power of high speed internet access in a safe and equitable way,” said Geoff Brown, Head, New York City Cyber Command.

"The brightness of our City's future in part depends on how quickly New Yorkers can upload and download data from the internet," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "We are in a race against the rest of the modern world and to ensure we have the brightest future possible and that are residents are meeting their full potential we must close the digital divide and work to bring every New Yorker up to the speed of the modern world. Broadband speeds are a necessity in today's world, whether in school or in the workplace, anyone who does not have access is at risk of permanently falling behind. This masterplan for internet connectivity infrastructure is just as important as any other infrastructure plan. It will determine our future and put New York City at the forefront of closing the digital divide and developing technology we cannot even imagine right now. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and to the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer for coming up with this plan and for making this a priority for this new year."

“New York City continues to lead the way in building a tech-based economy that works for everyone,” said Aneesh Chopra, 1st Chief Technology Officer of the United States. “The Internet Master Plan demonstrates NYC is prepared to compete with anyone anywhere and is committed to solidifying its position as a globally recognized technology and innovation leader.”

“Through its Internet Master Plan the Mayor’s Office takes a hard look at the root causes of the ongoing digital divide and asks why such gaps in connectivity still exist. Bridging the divide is not just about addressing problems of network availability and incentivizing the carriers to build out networks further," said Timothy Karr, Senior Director of Strategy and Communications, Free Press. "The high costs of their services and a lack of choices prevent many in New York City's most vulnerable neighborhoods from going online even when a connection is available. The Mayor’s plan offers a more equitable and comprehensive approach to providing high-performing broadband services at costs all New Yorkers can afford.”

"New York's innovative plan represents the best of information sharing, cooperation, and problem solving,” said Blair Levin, Executive Director, 2010 United States National Broadband Plan. “All cities seeking to improve their broadband position should emulate this approach."

“The NYC Internet Master Plan is the most comprehensive approach I have seen from any large city, said Christopher Mitchell, Director, Community Broadband Networks, Institute for Local Self-Reliance. “This plan focuses on realistic solutions that combine municipal assets and strengths with many local opportunities for partnerships to dramatically improve Internet access across a tremendous variety of neighborhoods.”

“Modern infrastructure is essential in creating a truly successful 21st century city and therefore low cost high speed broadband must be available to all at work, home, play, and everywhere in between,” said Andrew Rasiej, Founder and CEO of Civic Hall. “The de Blasio administration is providing our city and the nation with a foundational plan and vision for creating a more equitable and just future with true economic, social, and political opportunity for all.”

“Reliable, fast internet service is vital for everyone, let alone any business or organization, to succeed in the 21st century, making it imperative that all New Yorkers have the connectivity they need,” said Julie Samuels, Tech:NYC Executive Director. “We applaud the city for taking this issue seriously and focusing on improving connectivity throughout every neighborhood. Giving New Yorkers better internet access will require all stakeholders — including the city and the tech sector — to work together, and we are looking forward to that.”

"New York City’s Internet Master Plan is the most thoughtful and comprehensive blueprint by any major city to ensure that every resident and small business has affordable and open access to high-performance broadband," said Gigi Sohn, Distinguished Fellow, Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate. "Mayor de Blasio and his team of experts have developed a data-driven plan that treats broadband as vital infrastructure and considers every possible technological solution to connect city residents. Critically, the plan recommends smart solutions to break down non-price barriers to broadband adoption, like digital literacy training and online privacy protections. The federal government has failed to meet the broadband needs of tens of millions of Americans. It is therefore incumbent upon states, cities and municipalities to step up where the federal government has stood down. The Internet Master Plan will be a vital resource for cities big and small so that they too can ensure that their residents have the connectivity needed to participate fully in our economy, our society and our democracy." 

“A common assumption is that everyone has internet on their phones and in their homes,” said Angela Siefer, Executive Director, National Digital Inclusion Alliance. “New York City is addressing that assumption head on. They understand the barriers (cost and digital literacy) and they are actively working on solutions. NDIA would love to see an Internet Master Plan in every U.S. city and town." 

"Where the private sector and the federal government have left consumers high and dry, states and cities continue to step in,” said Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America. “New York City's Master Plan recognizes that internet access is indispensable for living and working in the 21st Century, and that government must play a role in ensuring access for everyone. It's a real achievement." 

"The New York City Internet Master Plan is a grand step in connecting the millions of residents who risk becoming digitally invisible without adequate broadband access,” said Nicol Turner Lee, Ph.D., Fellow, Brookings Institution. “I applaud city officials for their efforts to create a solid evidenced-based plan to close the digital divide and bring online resources to those who need it most."

“The City's Internet  Master Plan provides a roadmap for accelerating development of New York’s broadband and telecommunications infrastructure through public-private collaboration, ensuring that the city remains at the forefront of the global innovation economy,” said Kathryn Wylde, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City.

"The New York Public Library understands the vital importance of providing all New Yorkers with equal access to the Internet, particularly as technology has become increasingly prevalent with more and more of our daily lives conducted online," said Anthony Marx, President of The New York Public Library. "The Library feels a profound sense of responsibility to disrupt the digital divide by providing full access to information, offering computers, wi-fi, technology classes and more-essential resources for those unable to access the internet at home. We are excited to stand with our City partners to continue this important work and further support an informed and engaged community."   

"Brooklyn Public Library has long worked to bridge the digital divide, providing free WiFi in our branches, giving internet service at home to school-age children through the hot spot program, loaning laptops and hosting free computer classes in our branches," said Nick Higgins, Chief Librarian. "We are delighted to work with the Mayor's office on this important initiative to eliminate barriers and ensure every New Yorker City has equal access and opportunity."

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