In light of recent visions, the city’s last major broadband intervention was negotiated under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2006. New York signed a franchise agreement with Verizon, allowing the company to had the privilege of burying fiber optic cables under the streets of the city in exchange for the installation of high-speed Fios in every vicinity. But Verizon has failed to do so in many low-income areas. During a public hearing in April, the city’s chief technology officer, John Paul Farmer, testified that relatively few vendors in some neighborhoods meant there was little market pressure. to reduce the price. “The current authoritarian system is broken, and it has created digital injustice on the streets and neighborhoods of New York,” he said.
The city recently struck a deal with Verizon that requires it to connect an additional 500,000 households, with at least 125,000 in underserved neighborhoods, by 2023.
Chris Serico, a Verizon spokesman, said the company is on track to meet the terms of its agreement. “Verizon is committed to finding lasting solutions to provide affordable broadband options to low-income Americans,” Serico wrote in an email.
Clayton Banks, chief executive officer of Silicon Harlem, a company focused on increasing connectivity in Harlem, said he hopes that the city’s strategy of betting on more competition will work, but he is wait and see how Fios and existing vendors will be priced. . “If you keep building the infrastructure, which is certainly welcome and necessary, but you keep the retail price the same,” he said, “you still haven’t settled on anything in terms of revenue collection. attract more people online.
After months of back and forth, NYC Mesh was given the green light to place a hub in a 24-story public housing tower in Bed-Stuy, along with two other developments in the Bronx and Queens. Four other small vendors, including Silicon Harlem, were selected to support 10 other NYCHA developments. As part of Phase One of the Internet Master Plan, which the city will direct $157 million, NYC Mesh installed free public hotspots around the projects’ exterior land; Other companies must provide residents with Wi-Fi access in their apartments for no more than $20 a month.
NYC Mesh applied to set up centers on 163 additional public buildings as part of Phase Two. If successful, this will allow the NYC Mesh to cover most of the city over the next five to seven years. Since every router installation comes with a free public Wi-Fi hotspot, NYC Mesh can make the Internet truly universal across New York City.
Even as NYC Mesh continues to grow, it still runs into the same troubles as the major providers: The internet is sometimes disrupted. Mr. Heredia and other volunteers pride themselves on resolving service issues quickly, but as the organization expands, it will need more people like Mr. Heredia if it wants to keep members happy.