More details emerge on NYC free internet pilot
Residents in Section 8 housing in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan will be covered by a wireless mesh network under the program announced by Mayor Eric Adams.
Some low-income households in New York City will receive free broadband internet under a plan announced by Mayor Eric Adams during his State of the City address last week.
Adams said during his speech that households with Section 8 vouchers in the Bronx and northern Manhattan boroughs of the city will be part of a pilot program that gives them access to free broadband. He pledged to “help all New Yorkers get connected no matter what their income level.”
Pilot participants will be provided with access through the creation of a wireless mesh network, an Adams spokesperson said in an email. The pilot will target buildings that have a high percentage of Section 8 voucher-holders, retrofitting them with internal broadband cabling and rooftop antennae to get them connected. Around 650 households will have the option to automatically receive free internet service from this pilot, the spokesperson said.
The new program is in addition to one announced in the fall known as Big Apple Connect. It looks to give 300,000 residents in more than 200 developments owned by the New York City Housing Authority broadband access by providing them with a cable box, modem and router, as well as Wi-Fi in the common areas of NYCHA buildings.
The mesh network pilot comes on the heels of Adams reportedly nixing the city’s Internet Master Plan, having initially put it on hold last year.
Other jurisdictions have tried to provide free broadband to unserved, low-income residents. Los Angeles County’s broadband expansion plan that passed in 2021 included a pledge to provide free high-speed access to 365,000 low-income households. That effort began with a pilot program, funded by $56 million from the American Rescue Plan. It aimed to deliver high-speed internet to 12,500 homes through a Citizen Broadband Radio Service and/or millimeter wave technologies.
Construction on the full LA County Community Broadband Network is set to begin this year, connecting areas where more than 20% of households are without home internet.
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