Mayor Bloomberg Launches Competition To Install Free Fiber Cable Wiring For Businesses Across The City
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced on October 22 the launch of ConnectNYC, an innovative City-sponsored competition to encourage growing commercial and industrial businesses in New York City to apply for free fiber cable wiring and to ensure the City continues to establish itself as a leader in connectivity and innovation. The competition – one of a suite of initiatives originally announced by Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel in June – is designed to assist small or medium-sized businesses in unwired or underwired buildings by providing an opportunity for free, fast-track wiring. Beginning today, companies can apply through a competitive process being led by the City’s Economic Development Corporation. Awards will be given to companies based on a set of evaluation criteria, including how additional connectivity will help them grow their businesses, the potential to improve broadband infrastructure in underserved areas, and the business’ proximity to other applicants. Once the winning businesses are selected, Time Warner Cable Business Class and Cablevision, which have partnered with the City on this initiative, will commence free fiber build-out, with over 100 businesses expected to be fiber wired in the first year of the program. By the end of the second year of the program the total number of businesses is expected to reach 240. The application process for ConnectNYC officially begins today and will be open through November 27th, 2012. Winning companies are expected to be announced in early 2013.
“In today’s world, broadband is a vital piece of infrastructure, and we need to make sure New York City’s wiring is competitive with other cities,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Expanding broadband across the city is part of our strategy to make New York City a great place to do business and create jobs.”
“In the 21st century and beyond, a robust broadband infrastructure will be critical to the success of businesses across all sectors of our City’s economy,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “This competition is an important first step in achieving our goals for increased connectivity, providing hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses with free fiber wiring that will allow them to grow and thrive.”
“In recent years, New York City has emerged as a global hub of technology and innovation,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “The launch of the ConnectNYC competition is the next important step in our efforts to build upon this momentum, expanding broadband connectivity across the City and ensuring that our broadband infrastructure meets the needs of our businesses throughout the 21st Century.”
“Getting more New York City businesses access to high-speed broadband will have a major impact on their ability to be competitive and ultimately succeed in today’s marketplace,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Every business deserves a level playing field so I’m especially excited that at least a quarter of the overall award value will be granted to businesses located in Industrial Business Zones, areas currently underserved by high-speed broadband. I thank Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Steel for working with the City Council to address the needs of those most affected by these issues and taking even more concrete steps toward our goal of making New York City the tech capital of the world.”
“The telecommunications needs of the small business community are great, especially in the outer boroughs and the City’s industrial areas,” said Council Member Diana Reyna, Chair of the Committee on Small Business. “I am encouraged by the commitments made in the ConnectNYC program and by the Mayor to address these serious concerns. This investment will hopefully help our industrial sector in remaining competitive and viable in our ever modernizing economy.”
“ConnectNYC is yet another example of New York’s commitment to expand broadband infrastructure, help local businesses, and keep our city at the forefront of the world’s technology sector,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “We learned that fast, free and low cost fiber does not exist in many of the commercial and manufacturing areas when the City Council with the Broadband Advisory Committee held hearings on broadband connectivity in all five boroughs. I applaud the Mayor for this initiative, and thank Time Warner and Cablevision for their investment in the city’s future.”
ConnectNYC is being led by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and ChallengePost, a New York City startup that enables competitive public problem-solving. The goal of the competition is to capitalize on New York City’s existing advantages in connectivity and innovation, while also addressing long-term challenges facing the City and the nation in this area. Businesses with fewer than 100 employees in all five boroughs and across all industries are eligible to apply on www.NYC.gov or by calling 311.
Applications can be submitted by individual businesses only, and will be evaluated on proximity to areas currently underserved by broadband infrastructure; proximity to other applying businesses in order to encourage clustering and efficiency in broadband installation; and the anticipated impact of having broadband access on business operations. As part of the application process, applicants must obtain a signed letter of consent from their landlord at the time of submission. Once selections have been made, businesses chosen to participate will be required to sign a one-year service contract with a participating Internet Service Provider at negotiated market rates prior to being eligible to receive fiber build-out. The partnering Internet Service Providers - Time Warner Cable Business Class and Cablevision - will then begin fiber wiring over 100 winning businesses, continuing on their previous commitments to deploy fiber optics to areas across New York City as part of their recent cable television franchise renewals. The value of the total fiber wiring being provided by Time Warner Cable Business Class and Cablevision during the full two year program will equal $12 million and will reach approximately 240 businesses. In order to ensure the competition serves businesses across all sectors, a minimum of 25% of the overall award value will be granted to businesses located in Industrial Business Zones.
“We are excited to partner with Mayor Bloomberg’s Administration to launch ConnectNYC, as we agree that building out the city’s fiber infrastructure is vital to attracting new jobs and businesses,” said Ken Fitzpatrick, President of Time Warner Cable Business Class, East Region. “We’re on track to invest $25 million to bring fiber to the City’s business communities and, through ConnectNYC, will invest an additional $10 million.”
”Cablevision, through Optimum Business and Optimum Lightpath, is committed to providing the local business community with the service and reliability they need in order to thrive in today’s marketplace,” said Gemma Toner, Senior Vice President, Broadband Product Management, Cablevision. “We are pleased to participate in this important initiative with Mayor Bloomberg’s office to help ensure that New York City remains a great place to start a business.”
"A lot of companies believe strongly that new thriving business districts could evolve if there were even greater high-speed fiber broadband access in these areas," said Brandon Kessler, CEO of ChallengePost. "We're excited to power this competition to move the needle in that direction."
Thanks to rapid growth in New York City’s technology sector, as well as a number of groundbreaking City-sponsored initiatives, including Applied Sciences NYC, New York has recently gained universally-recognized momentum in technology and innovation. However, despite these advantages, there remain challenges in this area that must be addressed in order to maintain this momentum and ensure a global leadership position for the future. These specific challenges fall into three separate categories, including:
• The “Last Mile,” in which broadband infrastructure exists within the streets and the avenues but is not connected to buildings where businesses can utilize them, particularly within a number of emerging high-tech neighborhoods across the City;
• “Digital Deserts,” in which there are underserved pockets in industrial and manufacturing neighborhoods that lack broadband infrastructure in the surrounding streets; and
• The “Digital Divide,” a national problem, which persists in the City with low-adoption rates for broadband connectivity within low-income communities.
ConnectNYC seeks to address these challenges by creating a way to accelerate fiber infrastructure build-out in areas of the City that otherwise may have taken longer, and efficiently bringing together commercial and industrial business demand for fiber broadband connectivity.
In addition to ConnectNYC, the City’s suite of larger broadband initiatives features a variety of other innovative programs that will be implemented over the course of the next several months. These include: WiredNYC, a building certification program that will evaluate the broadband infrastructure of New York City buildings in order to encourage and accelerate deployment of leading broadband technologies; NYC Broadband Connect Map, a crowd-sourced, dynamic website in which businesses can learn about connectivity availability and capabilities in a given building or neighborhood; Broadband Express, an initiative led by Deputy Mayor Steel in partnership with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) and the NYC Department of Transportation, designed to simplify operational issues as well as regulatory hurdles for Internet Service Providers (ISPs); and CitizenConnect, a competition to be led by NYCEDC and DoITT - in partnership with Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD), Human Resources Administration (HRA), and the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) - to develop mobile applications that will help City residents access workforce development opportunities, jobs listings and worker support programs such as childcare, healthcare and transportation.
“ConnectNYC is the latest in a bevy of initiatives as part of New York City’s march to a high-speed future,” said Stanley Shor, DoITT’s Assistant Commissioner for Franchise Administration. “We’re pleased that DoITT’s efforts in negotiating new fiber deployments to underserved areas have resulted in this innovative competition, which will bring state-of-the-art technology to more than 200 businesses across the five boroughs.”
“Connecting more and more New Yorkers to high-speed internet access is the foundation of Mayor Bloomberg's digital roadmap and a priority for the City of New York,” said Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot. “We understand that a connected city is a thriving city. Wiring 240 businesses free of charge through ConnectNYC will increase productivity, enable industry growth and create more jobs across the five boroughs.”
“The Department of Youth and Community Development is committed to meeting New York City’s youth and families where they are,” said DYCD Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav. “To keep up with today’s tech-savvy young people, that has meant stepping up our presence in social media and other online resources. I am delighted to join my City agency partners to continue to find innovative ways to connect New Yorkers to services and new opportunities.”