The expansion adds on to 30,000 residents who already received low-cost broadband. On July 27, 2021, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an agreement with New York City-based internet service provider Bloc Power to bring high-speed internet access to 10,000 NYCHA residents across five Bronx NYCHA developments. The five developments include Melrose, East 152 Street-Courtlandt Avenue, Forest, Morris I, and Morris II.
The expansion is part of the City’s Internet Master Plan, the City’s roadmap to universal broadband across New York City. Providing internet access in the modern world provides access to economic opportunities and prosperity. The City’s Request for Expressions of Interest has allowed more internet service provider companies to enter the market; as the City can provide the physical structures like light poles, facades, rooftops, and other places that broadband can be installed, it removes the obstacle of obtaining more assets for infrastructure that can box out smaller internet service providers and allows those providers to offer cheaper service rates. Under the Request for Expressions of Interest, companies could offer plans of up to only $20 per month.
Under the new agreement with Bloc Power, residents will be provided access for free for the first year and will pay $15 per month after the first year. By comparison, in the targeted neighborhoods, internet service providers regularly charge from $40 to $110 per month for internet access. In addition to the 10,000 residents impacted by the agreement with Bloc Power, another 30,000 NYCHA residents have already received low-cost broadband.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how necessary it is to have internet access at home. Currently, 46 percent of New York City households that are in poverty do not have access to broadband at home, and the Bronx has the highest percentage of residents without home broadband at nearly 38 percent.
The City estimates that universal broadband can generate up to 165,000 new jobs, an increase of $46 billion in personal income, and generate $142 billion in incremental Gross City Product in 2045.
Mayor de Blasio stated, ““Every New Yorker deserves easy, affordable access to the internet. 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.”
Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin stated, “All New Yorkers should have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet, regardless of their zip code or the size of their paycheck. 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.”
By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)