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Mayor Bloomberg Announces Several Broadband Initiatives for New York City

Initiatives Address Last Mile Access, Digital Deserts, and the Digital Divide


Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced several broadband initiatives to expand New York City’s broadband connectivity and increase the marketability of the City for high speed broadband connectivity. The Mayor's initiatives were announced to solve three specific challenges mentioned in the announcement - last mile connections, 'Digital Deserts', and the 'Digital Divide."

Last mile connections in urban areas present different challenges than typically encountered in rural areas. In NYC, last mile access issues refer to the connection from adjacent streets and avenues to actual buildings. In rural areas, last mile access refers to the connection to nearby networks or interconnection points. In a large city such as NYC, a resident in a large apartment building could easily look out an apartment window and see a neighbor net door, or across the street, enjoying a high speed Internet experience. In rural areas, entire streets, usually sparsely populated could be unserved. While 'last-mile' issues are significant barriers to deployment in urban and rural areas alike, the solutions can be very different.

Digital deserts are a larger problem in NYC, where there are pockets of underserved industrial and manufacturing neighborhoods. This problem mainly affects commercial access, and has a significant impact on economic development.

The digital divide refers to the adoption of broadband by those that are able to access a broadband connection. The digital divide is an issue which afflicts all parts of the country, with disparities among various demographic groups.

Broadband Adoption: What Are the Barriers?

Mayor Bloomberg's initiatives are designed to build on the growth which has taken place within the City’s technology sector. The initiatives include a competition to build out fiber wiring for commercial and industrial buildings (digital deserts), a grading program for connectivity in New York City buildings to reward high speed access, an online map highlighting wired buildings citywide, a streamlined process for broadband-related permitting as well as exploring the streamlining of regulatory issues, and a competition to develop mobile applications to help residents access critical services provided by the City and community-based organizations.

According to the Mayor's release regarding the entire list of broadband initiatives, the effort is expected to "lead to hundreds of buildings being wired for state-of-the-art connectivity in the next two years, tens of thousands of permits issued through more efficient and streamlined processes, thousands of buildings being certified and placed on the City’s digital map, and a significant increase in online resources for thousands of residents of the five boroughs. The announcement was made by Deputy Mayor Steel this morning in a forum sponsored by the Association for a Better New York.

Read a description of Mayor Bloomberg's NYC Broadband Initiatives

According to remarks made by Mayor Bloomberg:

“The growing technology industry is diversifying the City’s economy and creating the jobs of the future,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “To support those jobs, we need to help the industry get the resources it needs – whether that means more qualified engineers or broadband connections. But encouraging investment in broadband will help more than just the tech sector – it will make sure more businesses and more New Yorkers can get connected.”

“These five initiatives we're announcing today to improve access to high-speed broadband come at a time when our city’s businesses and residents depend on the internet more now than ever before,” said Speaker Quinn. “By removing impediments to business operation, such as the lack of access to broadband in commercial office buildings, we’ll ensure business owners can focus the bulk of their attention on running a successful business. I thank Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Steel for working with the City Council to address the needs of those most affected by these issues and taking even more concrete steps toward our goal of making New York City the tech capital of the world.”

President Obama's National Broadband Plan to Make the United States a Leader in Broadband Access

“Broadband is the infrastructure of the modern age, and a basic necessity not just for tech businesses, but for every business,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “These initiatives will harness market dynamics and create increased transparency to incentivize the private sector to expand New York’s broadband infrastructure.”

United Nations: Broadband Access is a Basic Human Right

“While New York City’s emergence as a global hub of technology and innovation is a promising sign for the future of our economy, certain challenges must be met in order for us to stay competitive,” said Seth W. Pinsky, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “Through this innovative suite of initiatives, we will pilot programs to address critical challenges to our broadband infrastructure, expanding connectivity for both businesses and residents, increasing critical information that is available to the public, and streamlining operational processes for permitting. Thanks to the support of our dedicated public and private partners, these programs will help ensure that the City’s economy continues to grow and that we maintain our leadership position going forward.”

“DoITT helps lead the Administration’s digital inclusion efforts with a range of initiatives to foster both broadband build-out and adoption in underserved areas and communities citywide. This also includes making fiber connectivity available to every city household by the end of 2014,” said Citywide Chief Innovation and Information Officer Rahul N. Merchant. “Building upon those efforts with today’s suite of initiatives, we’re ensuring the promise of broadband technology as infrastructure vital to New York City’s residents, businesses, and entrepreneurs in the 21st century marketplace.”

“The greatest city in the world demands the best Internet connectivity in the world, and today Mayor Bloomberg has made an historic investment in New York City’s digital future that brings us a step closer to that goal,” said Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne. “These visionary initiatives led by Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Steel will connect New Yorkers, fuel innovation and propel the City’s thriving technology sector to even greater heights.”

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