NEW YORK — About $157 million has been invested to provide high-speed internet access to low-income communities in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.
The mayor called the investment a “major step” to tackle the digital divide in the city.
“Broadband is the way that so many people access everything” including education, job opportunities, job trading, the mayor said.
From the $157 million investment, about $87 million has been redirected from the NYPD budget.
Currently 1.5 million New Yorkers lack internet access, according to de Blasio.
The mayor also criticized internet companies for getting away with not providing broadband connection to lower-income communities, which he called “inappropriate” and “unfair.”
Through the investment, the city plans to reach 600,000 underserved New Yorkers, including 200,000 in NYCHA.
This would provide new, lower-cost internet service at about $15 a month.
NYC will also work with minority and women-owned businesses as well as nonprofit organizations to invest in these low-income communities.
About 100 young adults will also be trained and employed as certified broadband technicians and installers, according to Deputy Mayor Phil Thompson.
“The internet is more of a necessity these days than a convenience,” he said, adding that “not having access to the internet in 2020 is like not having access to public education was in 1950,” which closes access to opportunities and further widens the racial divide.
In addition, the city will also fight for a new state law to force internet companies to pay New York City for using their streets for their profit.
The money collected would then be used to provide more internet access to communities.