New York City unveils broadband initiatives

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn yesterday announced new initiatives designed to improve broadband connectivity throughout the city. Among the strategies is a competition to promote the deployment of fiber-optic connections to commercial and industrial sites.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn yesterday announced new initiatives designed to improve broadband connectivity throughout the city. Among the strategies is a competition to promote the deployment of fiber-optic connections to commercial and industrial sites.

“The growing technology industry is diversifying the City’s economy and creating the jobs of the future,” said 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.”

The initiatives, developed in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), are designed to address three problem areas:

  • overall connectivity
  • getting broadband services to underserved portions of the city
  • improving broadband adoption rates among low-income communities.

Bloomberg and Quinn unveiled five initiatives aimed at addressing these concerns:

  1. ConnectNYC is a competition to build out fiber connectivity for commercial and industrial buildings across the five boroughs. While the wiring of certain previously-underserved areas, like the Brooklyn Navy Yard, is now underway, through ConnectNYC, the city government will assist small and medium-sized businesses, including industrial 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 currently negotiating with Time Warner Cable about partnering on the program and planners are confident the can announcement an agreement in “the coming weeks.”
  2. WiredNYC is a building certification program that will evaluate the broadband infrastructure of New York City buildings to encourage and accelerate deployment of broadband technologies. The program will give businesses information about a building’s connectivity and enable landlords to market their buildings’ assets and compete for tenants. 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.
  3. NYC 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 who are partnering with the City, including Optical Communications Group (OCG), Reliance Globalcom, Zayo and RCN. The hope is that businesses around the city will share details on their current service, as well as the type of service they would ideally like to have in their buildings. The city expects to launch this service by the end of this year.
  4. Broadband Express will aim to smooth the path for new ISPs to deliver broadband services. Under the leadership of Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway and Citywide Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul Merchant, working with the NYC Department of Transportation, the city expects to simplifying operational issues as well as regulatory hurdles for these ISPs. For example, the city will “immediately” identify a city point-person for ISP street operations permitting as well as other related issues. Next, the city will “soon” begin to commit to processing all standard broadband-related street operations permits within two business days, on average, and gather data to be held accountable. The program could facilitate nearly 25,000 broadband-related permits in the next two years, Bloomberg and Quinn believe. The city also promises to explore the streamlining of additional broadband connectivity regulatory issues for ISPs in the future.
  5. CitizenConnect will see NYCEDC and DoITT, in partnership with Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), Human Resources Administration (HRA), and the Department of Small Business Services (SBS), create a competition to develop mobile applications targeted at low-income citizens. Working closely with the tech sector, this competition will bring together service delivery organizations as well as developers to identify challenges and develop prototype solutions.

“These five initiatives we're announcing today to improve access to high-speed broadband come at a time when our city’s businesses and residents depend on the Internet more now than ever before,” said Quinn. “By removing impediments to business operation, such as the lack of access to broadband in commercial office buildings, we’ll ensure business owners can focus the bulk of their attention on running a successful business.”



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