Connecting all New Yorkers to reliable broadband internet is something of a running joke at this point. Mayoral administrations make huge proclamations and hand out massive government contracts they claim will finally provide all New Yorkers high-speed internet. But these programs always seem to run into one major issue—they’re not lucrative enough for the city’s internet monopolies, who try everything in their power to stop or disrupt them.
During the Bloomberg administration, the idea was to give Verizon the go-ahead on maintaining their cable monopoly in many parts of the city—provided they bring Fios to all parts of the city. That didn’t happen, and the City had to sue them in 2017, in an attempt to make Verizon do the work. (The City settled with Verizon, which promised to bring Fios to 500,000 low-income customers instead). At the same time that the Verizon franchise agreement was failing to finally connect low-income communities, the de Blasio administration was rolling out LinkNYC—those street monoliths meant to act as free internet for unconnected communities— from a Google subsidiary. Except because the monoliths were funded by advertising revenue, there was no incentive by its parent company to put them in low-income areas, and they ended up mostly splattered around Manhattan. The City lost millions on the deal.
So the City went back to focusing on actual high-speed internet hook-ups. In 2020, the de Blasio administration announced it would launch the Internet Master Plan, which would spend $157 million to connect 1.2 million New Yorkers to free or low-cost, high-speed internet. Instead of relying on the big name internet providers, the plan would focus on locally-owned businesses, with a focus on those owned by minorities or women. The vendors were picked, the plan was ready to roll out to neighborhoods after a successful pilot project and then…the mayoral administration changed. Over at Gothamist, Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky has the story on how the Adams administration has killed the Internet Master Plan, leaving several small businesses in the lurch, and ending the City’s latest attempt to finally bring low-cost high-speed internet to the communities that need it.
So now what’s the plan? Well, we’re back to once again trying LinkNYC, but bigger (and not much better). Oh, and also a contract handed out by the City to cable behemoths Altice and Charter, who will connect some NYCHA residents to free internet for three years. NYC’s broadband equity dreams remain…buffering.
More links to start your day, but make sure you have enough bandwidth to open all the tabs!
And finally, do not be fooled by the New York Times drawing you into endless neighborhood boundary squabbling to fill gaps in year-end content. There is only one true neighborhood in New York City, and that is the Penn District.