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NYC Releases 'Truth in Broadband' Report

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NEW YORK -- Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the release of Truth in Broadband: Access and Connectivity in New York City – April 2018, a report that describes how broadband service currently delivers on the City’s guiding principles of equity, performance, affordability, privacy and choice, and provides the most complete and current picture yet of broadband access and connectivity in New York City.

Drawing from a range of data sources, the report highlights several problematic conditions, including:

  • Nearly one third of New York City households lack a home broadband subscription.
  • There are pronounced inequities in broadband subscribership among income groups, with more than half (56%) of New York City’s lowest-income households lacking a home broadband subscription.
  • Serious inequities in subscribership also exist across a range of other demographic traits, including age, race, education, employment status, language, household size and disability status.
  • Large sections of the city lack access to gigabit-speed service; nearly half of New York City small businesses do not have access to gigabit-speed service.
  • More than two thirds (69%) of households and nearly three quarters (72%) of small businesses have only 1 or 2 choices of broadband providers; 14% of small businesses have no choice of commercial fiber provider.

While presenting key challenges in New York City’s broadband market, the report also highlights the need for more and better data on broadband. Given significant limitations in the methods and definitions used in the publicly available data, the City requires data that is both more granular, and better aligned with the City’s standards. For example, a key source of data on internet service availability, the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 not only relies on self-reporting from internet service providers, but it considers any census block where a provider has a single customer for a given service as being 100% served with that service. This approach can easily overstate the number of households and businesses that can actually obtain access.

“To succeed in a 21st century economy, people must have access to 21st century technology,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Truth in Broadband Report is an important step in assessing the digital divide in New York City so we can work to ensure greater equity in internet access.”

“Connectivity is the gateway to opportunity in today’s world,” said Miguel Gamiño, Jr., New York City Chief Technology Officer. “This report is an important step in narrowing the digital divide, ensuring that all New Yorkers have equal and fair access to the internet, an essential utility, and the benefits that come with using it.”

The Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer is tasked with executing the Mayor’s OneNYC goal to connect every resident and business with affordable, reliable, high speed internet service by 2025. The Truth in Broadband report closely follows the City’s release of a Request for Information, seeking input from industry and subject matter experts on the development of a system to enhance transparency and accountability in how carriers provide internet service to consumers. Both are part of a broader effort by the administration to bring “Truth in Broadband” and empower New Yorkers with information and tools about available broadband service, to support their decision-making as consumers, business owners and citizens. The City plans to build on this report in the future with further analysis of related aspects of broadband access and use such as services provided via public Wi-Fi and public computer centers and the job opportunities and working conditions in the industry.

“Access to the internet is an absolute necessity that should be available to all New Yorkers,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “In our increasingly connected world, the internet plays an integral role in everything from securing a job to staying in touch with family, yet for far too many, access to affordable, high-speed internet is not a given. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for releasing this report and highlighting the growing need to provide this basic utility.”

“We are a global capital of trade, communications, and culture with a strong and growing tech industry, yet somehow an enormous number of our city’s residents and businesses still don’t have reliable, affordable access to high-speed broadband service, let alone healthy competition among multiple providers,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This report underscores the need for bold action at the city and state levels. The status quo is going to hold New York back if we let it persist forever.”

“Expanding access to broadband will level the playing field for New Yorkers looking to succeed in the contemporary marketplace,” said Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Technology Committee. With this goal in mind, the Truth in Broadband report allows us to analyze where connectivity disparities exist what gaps and we need to fill. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio and the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer for continuing to seek new ways to expand tech opportunities in NYC.”

“It’s time for universal access to broadband service,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “The Truth in Broadband report is a platform for our City to get there. I want to thank Mayor de Blasio and Miguel Gamiño for taking leadership on this critical issue.”

“Access to broadband internet can and should always be as easy as turning on the lights. New York City should be working around the clock to delete the ‘Digital Divide’ affecting nearly one-third of our households," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "The City's first-ever Truth in Broadband report is a great step toward making this a problem of the past. Thank you to Mayor Bill de Blasio and to Chief Technology Officer Miguel Gamiño, Jr., for working to identify this problem in detail and for committing time and resources to take the necessary action."

“Universal and affordable access to high-speed Internet is a necessity in today’s digital world,” said Samir Saini, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. “This report provides transparency into the quality and availability of broadband connectivity across the city. We will aggressively pursue strategies to close the digital divide and ultimately make this the fairest big city in America.”

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Truth in Broadband highlights gaps – both in access to broadband and access to high-quality data about it,” said James Perazzo, Acting Director of the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics. “I am pleased MODA could help the CTO team make these facts open using public data and open-source data science tools.”

“At Operations, we track and measure the progress of mayoral initiatives, including broadband access,” said Emily W. Newman, Acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations. “Access to technology and information is a vital part of ensuring equitable, fair service delivery.”

"This report tells us what too many New Yorkers live every day, said Maya Wiley, Senior Vice President for Social Justice & Henry Cohen Professor of Public and Urban Policy at The New School and NYCx Technology Leadership Advisory Council Member. Our children can't get their homework done at home. A phone doesn't cut it. Their parents have to go and hope to get a half hour on a library computer to search for a job. Thank goodness we have libraries. But who can live successfully in a 21st century world in the equivalent of a horse drawn buggy? This report calls our attention to the tremendous importance of coming together to find affordable and universal solutions so that all our residents can contribute to our shared prosperity."

The full report can be downloaded at https://tech.cityofnewyork.us/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NYC-Connected-Broadband-Report-2018.pdf

NYC Mayor's Office of the CTO

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