NYC Mayor Bloomberg Announces Broadband Initiatives

NEW YORK CITY - In an effort to maintain and build on New York City's technology leadership, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn announced new initiatives to expand the city’s broadband connectivity.

To capitalize on the growth in the city’s technology sector and address critical challenges, the initiatives include
  • a competition to build out fiber wiring for commercial and industrial buildings


  • a grading program for connectivity in New York City buildings


  • a crowdsourced digital map highlighting wired buildings citywide


  • a streamlined process for broadband-related permitting as well as exploring the streamlining of regulatory issues, and


  • a competition to develop mobile applications to help residents access critical services provided by the city and community-based organizations.


  • The mayor expects these initiatives to lead to hundreds of buildings being wired for state-of-the-art connectivity in the next two years. In addition, goals include tens of thousands of permits issued through more efficient and streamlined processes, thousands of buildings certified and placed on the City’s digital map, and a significant increase in online resources for thousands of residents of the five boroughs.


    “The growing technology industry is diversifying the city’s economy and creating the jobs of the future,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “To support those jobs, we need to help the industry get the resources it needs – whether that means more qualified engineers or broadband connections. But encouraging investment in broadband will help more than just the tech sector – it will make sure more businesses and more New Yorkers can get connected.”

    Thanks to a number of initiatives, including Applied Sciences NYC, which led to the selections of Cornell/Technion and an NYU-led consortium to build world-class centers of innovation in the City, New York has gained momentum in technology and innovation. However, several challenges remain:

  • In some areas, particularly in emerging high-tech neighborhoods, broadband infrastructure exists under the streets but is not connected to buildings where businesses can use them.


  • In underserved pockets of industrial and manufacturing neighborhoods, broadband infrastructure does not even exist in the surrounding streets.


  • Low-income communities still have low rates of adoption for broadband connectivity.


  • Seeing these challenges as obstacles to the city’s long-term competitiveness, the Bloomberg administration convened conversations with businesses and technology entrepreneurs to search for solutions. The initiatives that resulted from these conversations will be implemented over the course of the next several months, and include:

    ConnectNYC, a competition to build out fiber connectivity for commercial and industrial buildings. Although the wiring of certain previously underserved areas, such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is now under way, through ConnectNYC, the City will assist small and medium-sized businesses in unwired or underwired buildings to apply for free, fast-track wiring. Companies would apply through a competitive process that will make awards based on a demonstration of how additional connectivity would help them grow their business. The city is in advanced discussions with Time Warner Cable about partnering on this program, which could help wire several hundred additional buildings for high-speed Internet, and an announcement of a final agreement is anticipated in the coming weeks. Time Warner Business Class has already deployed fiber optics to many commercial districts in New York City.

    WiredNYC, a building certification program that will evaluate the broadband infrastructure of New York City buildings to encourage and accelerate deployment of leading broadband technologies. This program will create transparency about broadband infrastructure in the commercial real estate market, giving businesses information about a building’s connectivity when they are choosing where to locate and allowing landlords to market their buildings’ assets and compete for tenants. This program, and the associated grading standards, will be structured in partnership with both the real estate industry and the tech sector. WiredNYC will have a goal of cataloguing and ranking more than 300 commercial office buildings totaling more than 16 million square feet in the next two years.

    NYC Broadband Connect Map, which will fill knowledge gaps in the market. The Broadband Connect map will be a crowd-sourced, dynamic website in which businesses can learn about connectivity availability and capabilities in a given building or neighborhood. The map will incorporate multiple sources of data, such as the WiredNYC grades and information from several NYC fiber providers, including Optical Communications Group (OCG), Reliance Globalcom, Zayo and RCN. The most important source of information will be from businesses that will share details about their current service, as well as the type of service they would ideally like to have in their buildings – allowing the City’s broadband companies to understand where the demand for service exists. This new resource for businesses will be launched by the end of 2012 by NYCEDC.

    Broadband Express, a process of simplifying operations and regulatory hurdles for ISPs. The city will identify a point person for ISP street operations permitting as well as other related issues, who will help ensure that businesses get the service they need when they need it, and the city will also soon begin to commit to processing all standard broadband-related street operations permits within two business days, on average. This program could facilitate nearly 25,000 broadband-related permits in the next two years alone. The City will also begin to explore streamlining additional broadband connectivity regulatory issues for ISPs in the future.

    CitizenConnect, the expansion of more than 100 free public computing centers across the five boroughs and a competition to develop mobile applications to help residents access workforce development opportunities, jobs listings and worker support programs such as child care, health care and transportation. These services typically require a computer or laptop, which many low-income City residents do not have access to in their homes; providing these unconnected communities with access to services via available mobile platforms will better connect the city and community-based organizations and the services they provide to their clients.

    “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. We are committed to this project and are excited to give New Yorkers in need information on the latest job opportunities as they happen.”

    John Borthwick, CEO of betaworks, commented, “Connectivity is the electricity of our era, and our city should be a leader in 'lighting up' both our neighborhoods and buildings. The Connect NYC and WiredNYC initiatives will offer much-needed competition and transparency to New York.”

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