INTERNET MASTER PLAN ISSUED (January 2020)
Following an effort to encourage the adoption of broadband in NYC’s outer boroughs in 2019, Mayor de Blasio issued his ‘Internet Master Plan’ for the city’s broadband future in January of 2020, with the goal of charting a path for internet providers in the private sector to work in partnership with the City to “address gaps in the market, close the digital divide and deliver universal broadband to all New Yorkers.”
With the pandemic beginning in March, the needs of the over 1.5 million people in the city estimated by the Internet Master Plan itself to be without any type of broadband service to be able to connect to the internet became urgent and pronounced. However, with the ‘digital divide’ being a nationwide problem affecting over 20 million U.S. households by some estimates, a lack of coverage has persisted, both in the city and the country, and the Biden Administration’s new FCC chief has stated recently that the government must make reaching all citizens a “national priority.”
$157 MILLION INVESTMENT ANNOUNCED (July, 2020)
In July of last year, Mayor de Blasio announced that the city would accelerate broadband deployment in all 5 boroughs, saying it would make an additional $157 million investment which was to reach roughly 600,000 underserved New Yorkers, including 200,000 residents in public housing.
However, in November, having found over 100,000 NYC students to be without internet access the month prior, City Comptroller Scott Stringer stated his view that the city had “no comprehensive plan,” and roughly during the same period the New York City Council’s Committee on Technology held a hearing on the matter during which Chair Bob Holden expressed criticism of the Internet Master Plan. Mr. Stringer also issued a letter to internet service providers and carriers in the hopes of convening them to consider fast paced and affordable options to provide access to students.
AARON MEYERSON APPOINTED TO IMPLEMENT PLAN (December 2020)
In late December 2020, the City announced the appointment of Aaron Meyerson as a new Deputy Chief Technology Officer to lead the implementation of the Internet Master Plan, who together with three to be named individuals in additional positions were to focus on improving public-private partnerships and analyze broadband coverage data as to underserved New Yorkers among other things.
The Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer did not record any activity or progress concerning the Internet Master Plan on its site in either January or February of this year, nor did it announce any hires to the three positions created in December to assist with the plan’s implementation.
REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS ISSUED (March 2021)
On March 3, 2021, the City announced the release of a Request for Proposals (RFP), inviting the telecommunications industry to “create new affordable broadband service options,” via the granting of access of up to 100,000 city assets including street poles under a multi-agency effort that includes 18 entities. With a deadline of April 19, Chief Technology Officer John Paul Farmer stated that the city was “opening the door for industry to step up and propose a range of technologies that will modernize broadband infrastructure and bring 4G and 5G connectivity to those New Yorkers who need it most.”
The City’s statement says the “The RFP will reach 600,000 New Yorkers, including 200,000 public housing residents,” who are presumably the same individuals mentioned in the statement from July of last year, although a day later the City announced that a public-private partnership had delivered Wi-Fi upgrades that would grant over 12,000 students and adults utilizing the Cornerstone Community Centers internet access. Subsequently, free Wi-fi service to the QueensBridge Houses provided by Lumen and managed by a partnership including the Office of the Chief Technology Officer was reported as having been extended through April 2023.
No other activity was recorded for the rest of March.