The Big Apple Issues an RFP For Broadband Services

New York City (NYC) Mayor Bill de Blasio has committed $157 million in capital investment to move the next phase of the Internet Masterplan for universal broadband forward. Open Gov reported that NYC launched a request for proposal (RFP), representing “a first in the nation” approach to closing the digital divide. 

“Broadband is not a luxury, it is a necessity. We are closing the digital divide and bringing our city into the 21st century by reaching communities most in need,” said Mayor de Blasio.

Nearly one-third of NYC households lack fixed broadband, and 18 percent (1.5 million people) don’t have a residential or mobile connection. The city is working to bring affordable connectivity to most of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments with plans to expand to all neighborhoods citywide. 

The RFP will serve 600,000 New Yorkers — including 200,000 public housing residents — and will focus on areas prioritized by the Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity. Open Gov reported that the city anticipates engaging various ISPs and tech to achieve its goal. 

The city plans to deploy public WiFi for four use cases: 

  1. Streets
  2. Open space (parks)
  3. Public facilities (libraries)
  4. Transit (subway stations)

The Master Plan leverages the city’s real estate assets and public rights-of-way to deploy new infrastructure, including commercial fiber networks at nearly every street intersection. This will create an aggregation point in every neighborhood, enabling providers to extend service to residents. According to Open Gov, approved infrastructure will be attached to public and private properties, such as rooftops, street lights, or utility poles.

The Mayor also announced that the city would accelerate 5G deployment by doubling the number of city street poles available for mobile carriers to 7,500, mainly in underserved areas, to drive equitable rollout. Open Gov reported that poles could be reserved via a new online portal; approximately 1,500 poles will be released each quarter over the next 15 months, with the first phase starting this month. 

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