New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is accelerating the city’s “Internet Master Plan,” which aims to provide universal broadband access to residents, by investing $157 million into the program, according to an announcement Tuesday from the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer.
The city’s Internet Master Plan was first announced by de Blasio in January as an effort to connect nearly 1.5 million residents that lacked broadband access by encouraging private investment into the city’s existing infrastructure. It also set out to create jobs for minority and women-owned businesses by building new infrastructure.
Tuesday’s announcement more than doubles the city’s previous $70 million commitment to expanding internet infrastructure, like running new fiber optic cable, into the city’s most poorly connected neighborhoods. When the plan was announced, at least 18% of the city’s residents — nearly 1.5 million people — lacked both mobile and broadband internet access, according to OCTO.
“New York City’s digital divide is a barrier to individual opportunity, creates risks related to public health, and presents a threat to long-term economic growth,” city CTO John Paul Farmer said in a press release. “By investing and partnering to deliver low-cost broadband for communities in need, we are not only doing the right thing, we are doing the smart thing in connecting people to greater opportunity across all five boroughs, driving toward universal broadband, and setting New York City on a path to come back stronger than ever.”
De Blasio said that he will also work with the city’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity to ensure that discriminatory practices like “digital redlining,” which limit the internet access of certain neighborhoods, are ended.
In May, Farmer asked technology companies and ISPs around the city to submit ideas to improve connectivity, whether through devices like mobile Wi-Fi hotspots or simply by offering more affordable internet service plans. The partnerships for that project will be announced at the end of the summer, Farmer said, with the resulting projects slated for next year.