Free internet for every apartment in New York, offers a new bill


NEW YORK CITY – The Internet may soon join electricity, heating, hot water and a phone line as a utility included in every apartment in New York City.

A new bill proposed Thursday by Council member Ben Kallos would require all existing apartments to offer free high-speed internet access within three years. Newly built apartments are also expected to be wired for broadband under the bill.

Kallos said the bill would help bridge a “digital divide” among New Yorkers – 500,000 of whom do not have internet access and struggle to claim food benefits, work remotely, do their homework. homework or making appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine. He said the Internet should be seen as a utility.

“I can’t make the Internet a public service, only the FCC can do it, but I can make it mandatory in everyone’s apartment, just like heating, electricity, hot water and electricity. telephone service, ”he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for the internet.

Zoom calls and distance learning have become the everyday life of New Yorkers. And those without the internet found themselves left behind when the coronavirus vaccine rolled out, according to a recent CDC study.

Areas of New York City with disparities in internet access, such as East Harlem, which Kallos represents, had lower vaccination rates, the study found.

“COVID-19 vaccination was significantly associated with household Internet access in New York at the zip code level,” the study said.

Kallos said Internet access – or lack of it – has also fueled a “homework gap” for New York City students during the pandemic.

Schools became completely isolated for months and students without internet at home fell behind, he said.

“The kids were trying to learn on an iPad using an uneven 4G connection at best,” he said.

The bill requires new construction and existing homes with more than 10 units to provide Ethernet ports for wired broadband. Kallos said the internet is more reliable than wireless, although he noted the speeds are slower than many other connections.

Renters would still be able to get faster internet access under the bill.

Kallos said building owners who can’t afford the upgrade can apply for help. He noted that homeowners can buy the Internet at wholesale prices for as little as $ 14.95 per month per unit – a cost he said those who charge thousands of dollars per month can easily absorb.

“They would not be allowed to charge tenants,” he said.


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