NEW YORK — As New York City works to close the digital divide, the city has made an agreement with Verizon to connect half a million households to broadband connectivity.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday Verizon will be held accountable to build out its FiOS footprint to 500,000 households, making high-speed fiber broadband available to more New Yorkers.
The agreement ensures the half million households that previously lacked Verizon broadband access due to corporate failure to invest in the necessary infrastructure will have the option of fiber broadband, and create critical cost competition in areas where today only one provider exists.
“We’ve had a digital divide, we’ve had a huge disparity of who gets access to the internet and who doesn’t,” de Blasio said during his coronavirus briefing.
“We have to create a society in which everyone has equal access.”
Priority will be given to the least-connected community districts and the agreement ensures connectivity for every low-income and NYCHA residential building.
“Internet access is an economic right in New York City, no matter your ZIP code. Tech giants will not stand in our way to deliver high-quality broadband to New Yorkers – they must be a part of the solution,” said Mayor de Blasio.
“COVID-19 has further exposed the inequalities in internet access while changing the way New Yorkers work, learn, and live. We will continue to hold any corporation that fails to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers accountable.”
Broadband and internet access is an essential service to maintain health, receive and education and access employment, according to the mayor.
In addition to ensuring Verizon will build out its network, New York City continues to accelerate the NYC Internet Master Plan to close the digital divide, especially as more people are working from home and children are participating in full-remote learning amid rising COVID-19 cases.
At a minimum, Verizon will make connections available to 125,000 additional households in Community Districts, including:
- Bronx 2 (Hunts Point, Inwood)
- Bronx 5 (Fordham/Morris Heights, Mount Hope, University Heights)
- Brooklyn 16 (Brownsville, Ocean Hill)
- Bronx 7 (Bedford Park, Fordham, Jerome Park, Kingsbridge Heights, Norwood, University Heights)
- Manhattan 9 (Hamilton Heights, Manhattanville, Morningside Heights)
- Brooklyn 12 (Borough Park, Kensington, Ocean Parkway, Midwood)
- Manhattan 3 (Alphabet City, the East Village, the Lower East Side, Two Bridges, Chinatown)
- Brooklyn 9 (Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Wingate)
- Manhattan 12 (Inwood, Washington Heights)
- Brooklyn 4 (Bushwick)
- Queens 12 (South Jamaica)
That means if a resident requests paid FiOS service, Verizon will be required to make it available within seven days.
The new agreement comes as the city has made other efforts to achieve the goal of universal broadband to New Yorkers.