Access to the internet is now critical to many aspects of modern life, including but not limited to employment, education, socialization, and everyday communication. It might determine whether or not you get a job, go to college, or even high school.
Yet, New Yorkers living paycheck to paycheck continue to be excluded from this assistance.
Hence, NYC Mayor Eric Adams has just announced that 67 additional NYCHA complexes, including 20 in Brooklyn, would now have access to free broadband internet as part of his expansion of the ‘Big Apple Connect’ initiative.
The initiative, which was launched last year and now serves 202 NYCHA projects, will expand by 50 percent as a result of this.
About 300,000 people are now connected to the internet through “Big Apple Connect,” the largest municipal broadband program in the United States.
As part of this program, NYCHA residents receive a free package consisting of a Wi-Fi modem and router as well as basic cable TV service, complete with a cable box and remote control.
The mayor’s office also claims that there will be public Wi-Fi hotspots installed throughout the buildings, with input from NYCHA.
At a press conference held in the Bronx River Houses, Adams and Matthew Fraser, the Commissioner of New York City’s Office of Technology and Innovation and Chief Technology Officer, announced the expansion of the program.
The news conference was attended by people from all five boroughs, as well as representatives from BRIC Arts and Media in Brooklyn.
BRIC President Wes Jackson praised Mayor Adams and his team for their “Big Apple Connect” program, which will provide much-needed broadband access to NYCHA tenants.
According to Jackson, the program will enable BRIC to develop innovative arts and media education programs and resources for residents of NYCHA buildings.
“BRIC has a long history of serving and engaging with our friends and neighbors in NYCHA housing through our community engagement activities.
By creating a media literacy pipeline and giving locals access to resources, this project will help them develop not only as artists and creatives but also as contributing members of society.
Adams claims he is ahead of schedule after promising the city an expansion of the program by the year 2023.
“I am happy to deliver on my promise to close the digital divide for NYCHA residents six months ahead of schedule,” Adams said.
Altice (Optimum) and Charter are the providers of the complimentary Wi-Fi service (Spectrum). People can either sign up for service directly with Optimum or Spectrum, or they can attend an enrollment event hosted by the providers in conjunction with OTI.
“Access to the internet is a lifeline for New Yorkers,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “It connects people and families to educational resources, career possibilities, social services, and more.”
According to Mayor Adams and Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser, residents of 20 more NYCHA complexes in Brooklyn will have access to free internet and basic cable TV. Together, we can finally bridge the digital divide in every neighborhood of my borough and the entire city.