City delivers high-speed internet access to 5 NYCHA developments

Mayor Bill de Blasio and city officials announced today they are offering high-speed internet access for up to 10,000 residents in five New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments in the Bronx.

The announcement is part of the city’s implementation of the Internet Master Plan for Universal Broadband. The city and NYCHA have executed agreements with vendor Bloc Power to offer the high-speed internet access.

The developments include Melrose, East 152 Street-Courtlandt Avenue, Forest, Morris I, and Morris II. Access to broadband for residents who sign up will be free for the first year and $15/month beyond.

“Building a recovery for all of us means giving New Yorkers the tools they need to stay connected, at prices they can afford,” said de Blasio. “Expanding access for another 10,000 NYCHA residents will make our city fairer and more accessible for generations of New Yorkers, and I’m proud to see the Internet Master Plan deliver for communities who need it the most.”

Bloc Power is the sixth finalist selected from the City’s Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) issued in partnership with the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC) in June 2020. This effort is part of the Mayor’s commitment to extend broadband to New Yorkers in the hardest-hit communities identified by the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity.

The first five licensing agreements will increase access for up to 30,000 residents, bringing the total number of residents with increased broadband options due to the RFEI to up to 40,000.

This RFEI offered an opportunity for internet service providers, both large and small, to propose their plans and partnership ideas to use new access to NYCHA buildings and facilities.

City officials say respondents proved that when the City offers new assets – including building common areas, facades, rooftops, light poles, and other physical structures that can be used for broadband installation – companies will enter the market with lower-cost service options that compete with large companies offering service options to New Yorkers.

In the target neighborhoods, internet service providers charge anywhere from $40/month to $110/month. With this RFEI, vendors will provide free or low-cost internet service residents can sign up for no more than $20/month.

The new broadband service follows the January 2020, announcement of the City’s Internet Master Plan, a first-in-nation plan that provides the roadmap to universal broadband in New York City.

“Free broadband Internet for public housing has been a dream of mine for more than a decade and 10,000 residents at 5 NYCHA developments in the Bronx will be getting it for the next year,” said City Council Member Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan).

“The pandemic showed us that broadband access in the 21st century should not be viewed as a privilege for a select few that can afford it, but instead should be a universal right for all New Yorkers. For many of our historically underserved communities, the digital divide persists and is a constant obstacle to success,” said City Council Member and Democratic nominee for Bronx Borough President Vanessa L. Gibson.

This story appears courtesy of our sister publication PoliticsNY.