New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced that another 40,000 public housing residents across the city now have access to free internet and basic cable.
The new internet connects marks an expansion of the city’s “Big Apple Connect” broadband program, which is managed by the New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI).
The initiative, launched last fall, has now connected a total of 300,000 New Yorkers living in 202 New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments to free internet and basic cable. As part of this latest expansion, OTI has expanded ‘Big Apple Connect’ to reach an additional 67 NYCHA developments.”
“Too many underserved communities go without access to internet in their homes, preventing them from connecting with the ‘information super highway,’ said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
“With the expansion of Big Apple Connect, thousands of additional low-income individuals and families can receive reliable high-speed internet access that is essential for work, school, paying bills, and online shopping for basic household needs,” she said. “We must continue the fight to close the pervasive digital divide in our country and provide every American with vital technological resources, no matter their zip code or socioeconomic status.”
As part of Big Apple Connect, NYCHA development residents are offered a free bundle of in-home, high-speed internet connection, including a modem and router; basic cable TV service, including a cable box and remote control; and common area Wi-Fi hotspots. To deliver the cable and internet, NYC has signed three-year agreements with Altice and Charter to cover the majority of NYCHA developments. The mayor’s office noted that OTI is billed directly for all residents enrolled in Big Apple Connect.
“A better-connected New York City is a safer, more prosperous, and more equitable New York City,” said Chief Technology Officer and OTI Commissioner Matthew Fraser. “‘Big Apple Connect’s expansion ensures that thousands of students, families, jobseekers, and older adults living in public housing now have the broadband access needed to fully participate in our modern society. I am grateful to Mayor Adams for his action-oriented commitment to bridging the digital divide, and I thank Altice and Charter for their partnership on this landmark project.”
The city further explained that existing customers of Optimum and Spectrum living in NYCHA developments where Big Apple Connect is active will be automatically enrolled in the program and will only be billed for additional services they choose to purchase directly. Residents will receive email notifications and mailers explaining why their bills were lowered, as well as information on Big Apple Connect. Residents without existing service will have the opportunity to sign up directly though Optimum or Spectrum or may attend on-site enrollment events conducted by the companies in partnership with OTI.
“As we learned during the pandemic, access to high-speed internet is a necessity rather than an amenity. Expanding ‘Big Apple Connect’ will fulfill yet another goal of ‘Housing Our Neighbors,’ the city’s housing and homelessness blueprint,” said NYC Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz. “Ending the digital divide is one more way of addressing racial disparities, expanding economic opportunity, and improving quality of life for tenants.”