City Announces Plan to Increase Broadband Access

| June 21, 2012 3:54 PM

Broadband connectivity will bolster the tech economy in the city by bringing faster internet to underserved areas. Image composite by Ricardo E. Gálvez

At a forum of the Association for a Better New York on Thursday, the city announced a series of five initiatives intended to support the growing technology sector and provide better high-speed Internet access for both businesses and city residents.  Identified as obstacles in the city’s rise as a technology center are infrastructure issues and the low adoption rates of broadband connectivity in impoverished areas of the city.

 

In order to make sure the tech economy continues on its upward path, the city plans to remove operational and regulatory hurdles to speed the expansion of physical infrastructure, both in emerging high-tech areas in the city and in industrial and manufacturing neighborhoods — where streets are not even wired yet for broadband.  Mobile platforms will be developed to help boost access to job and worker support information for city residents without computers or laptops.

“The growing technology industry is diversifying the city’s economy and creating the jobs of the future,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement. “To support those jobs, we need to help the industry get the resources it needs.”

The city’s initiatives will work to make sure all New Yorkers have access to the digital tools they need, and that applications related to expanding broadband can be processed quickly. The initiatives, to be implemented over the next several months, are:

  • ConnectNYC: Through a partnership with Time Warner Cable, the city will host a competition to provide free “fast-track” wiring for companies in commercial or industrial buildings that are not yet equipped with broadband.
  • WiredNYC: A transparency initiative that will provide to businesses information about a building’s connectivity.
  • NYC Broadband Connect Map: This crowd-sourced map will show connectivity availability and capabilities in a given building or neighborhood while also allowing the city’s broadband companies to understand where the demand for service exists.
  • Broadband Express: The city will simplify the operations hurdles for Internet Service Providers and commit to processing standard broadband-related street operations permits within two business days, on average.
  • CitizenConnect: Building on the work the city has already done to address the “digital divide” among city residents, this initiative will create a competition to develop mobile applications that will help New Yorkers access workforce development opportunities, jobs listings and worker support programs such as childcare, healthcare and transportation through their mobile devices.

“Mobile and other digital communications platforms have the potential to dramatically improve our ability to deliver social services in New York City,” said HRA Commissioner Robert Doar. “In a survey conducted by HRA of our clients, over 76 percent of those receiving cash assistance and food stamps, preferred text messages to get updates on available job opportunities.”

The city expects that hundreds of buildings will be wired for state-of-the-art connectivity in the next two years.

UPDATE:

A representative for Time Warner Cable reached out to MetroFocus to say that the cable company is, in fact, on board.

“We applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s new broadband initiatives and are pleased that our expanding fiber network will play such an important role in helping New York City attract business investments,” said Ken Fitzpatrick, President of Time Warner Cable Business Class, East Region.

For more technology news, watch “MetroFocus: The Tech Economy,” airing on THIRTEEN on June 30 at 5 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. and July 12 at 8:30 p.m.; on WLIW at 5:30 a.m. on June 30; on NJTV on July 1 at 5:30 a.m. and July 2 at 4:30 a.m.

 

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