NYC Seeks Proposals to Expand 5G and Broadband Access Citywide

New York City is seeking proposals from telecom companies to expand 5G and broadband access citywide, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

As part of the plan, the city is making a historic $157 million capital investment to help close the digital equality divide, de Blasio said Wednesday at a virus briefing. The plan is to reach 600,000 New Yorkers, including 200,000 in public housing, the mayor said.

More than 1.5 million New Yorkers lack both home and mobile access, or about a fifth of residents, in what’s arguably the busiest, most connected city in the U.S. New York City broadband providers won praise last year for giving students free internet service after the pandemic hit and schools went remote, but the giveaways turned out to be limited-time promotions that brought new subscribers to companies like Optimum parent Altice USA Inc. and Spectrum parent Charter Communications Inc. That left thousands of families without the Internet they needed to let their kids attend school.

De Blasio, who has so far failed to fulfill his 2014 pledge to create universal broadband, has pressed on these companies to grant free or reduced pricing to more families with limited success. High-speed internet will facilitate learning and more job opportunities, officials said.

“2021 will be the year of 5G,” the mayor said.

The city’s plan will allow telecom companies to reserve more than 7,500 city light poles to install 5G and put 75% of poles in underserved areas.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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