New York, NY – Internet could be coming to New York City residents with their apartment like heat, hot water, electricity, and phone utilities under new legislation proposed by Council Member Ben Kallos. 500,000 households in New York City still have no Internet access with recent findings of a link between Internet Access and vaccinations. Under the proposal all new construction in New York City would have to be wired for Internet, with all existing housing providing broadband Internet to tenants for free within 3 years.
“Every New York City apartment comes with heat, hot water, electricity, and a phone line. It’s time to add Internet, so it is there and just works when a tenant moves in,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “We can finally end the digital divide and bridge the homework gap by making sure every apartment in New York City comes with Internet. You can’t get a vaccine if you can’t get online to schedule or even find an appointment, this pandemic has shown that the Internet is now a necessity.”
Half a million New Yorkers still have no Internet in their homes. Two of the worst neighborhoods for Internet connectivity are Borough Park Brooklyn (CB12) where one-third of households and East Harlem (CB11) where one-quarter of households have no Internet. A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control found that “COVID-19 vaccination was significantly associated with household internet access in New York City at the zip code level.”
|Citizens’ Committee for Children report and map using U.S. Census Tables S2801 and S2802 for 2015-2019.||Disparities in Internet Access and COVID-19 Vaccination in New York City, published by Centers for Disease Control.|
“Internet access has become essential for obtaining health care and public services. Our research found a significant zip code level association between internet access and COVID-19 vaccination during the early rollout of vaccine in New York City. Expanding broadband internet service would make the city more equitable, and help prevent health disparities,” said Isaac Michaels, MPH, Dr. Alvaro Carrascal, MD, MPH, and Sylvia J. Pirani, MS, MPH, co-authors of “Disparities in Internet Access and COVID-19 Vaccination in New York City.”
“Broadband access is essential and has proven to impact social determinants of education, health, employment, and the overall quality of life for all New Yorkers,” said Clayton Banks, CEO of Silicon Harlem. "We are inspired and eager to support the goal to have the Internet in all new construction and existing apartments within three years, connecting people is fundamental, let's do it together.”
"We always knew about the digital divide, but it became even more stark during this pandemic since it limits access to critical resources such as health information," said Minerva Tantoco, New York City’s first Chief Technology Officer, "Broadband access for new construction and existing buildings should be required."
“NYC has historically led the way in deploying the most current and robust communications technologies for our individual and collective social and economic progress. From the telegraph to the telephone, to broadband, NYC has been the nation, the world’s pioneer. Council Member Kallos’ proposed legislation would ensure that all New Yorkers, individually and collectively, may take fullest advantage of the broadband internet, including maximum access to the universe of online knowledge and the collaborative capabilities of online networks. In this circumstance, NYC is blessed by its density and existing infrastructure, allowing relatively easy and economic deployment of robust broadband Internet to all our residents,” said Professor Jonathan Askin
Founder/Director, Brooklyn Law Incubator & Policy Clinic at Brooklyn Law School
The legislation would require all new construction or renovation be wired for Internet using Category 6 gigabit ethernet of successor technology as may be adopted. Existing buildings with 10 or more units would have 3 years to offer broadband Internet to tenants for free. Internet could be provided directly by landlords to every unit through ethernet. Landlords could also purchase a bulk rate service contract with an Internet Service Provider such as Spectrum, Altice, Verizon, or RCN, which would provide landlords with more than a 50% discount on retail fees brining costs down to as little as $14.95 a month per unit. The speed of the Internet would be required to meet broadband standards as set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which has currently set the threshold to 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 megabits per second for uploads. A fund to assist existing building owners with demonstrated financial need would be created and administered by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD). Tenants would be able to pay for additional speed at no cost to the landlord.
The definition of utility is regulated by Federal and State laws. Under the Obama administration Council Member Kallos joined tens of thousands of Americans in submitted comments featured in the Washington Post to support regulating broadband service providers as “common carrier” utilities by the FCC, which was rolled back under the Trump administration. However, to most New Yorkers, what makes something a utility is whether it comes with your apartment, and this would do that.
New York City recently announced that all new subsidized affordable housing will be required to include Internet access at no cost to the tenant according to new design guidelines released in March. Previously, Council Member Kallos worked with Attorney General Tish James to advocate for low-cost high-speed Internet for low-income New Yorkers and won Internet Assist at $14.95 for students on free and reduced lunch and seniors receiving supplemental Social Security Income.
Int. No. 2418-2021
By Council Member Kallos
A LOCAL LAW
To amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to the provision of internet service to residential tenants
Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
- Section 1. Article 12 of subchapter 2 of chapter 2 of title 27 of the administrative code of
- the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 27-2051.2 to read as follows:
- § 27-2051.2 Internet service. a. Definitions. For purposes of this section, the following
- terms have the following meanings:
- Broadband internet service. The te rm “ b roadband internet service” me a ns a mass-market
- retail service by wire or radio that provides the capability to transmit data to and receive data from
- all or substantially all internet endpoints, including any capabilities that are incidental to and enable
- the operation of the communications service, but excluding dial-up internet access service.
- Broadband internet service shall support speeds no less than those determined by the federal
- communications commission, in suc h commission’s most rec e nt notice of inquiry initiate d
- pursuant to subsection (b) of section 1302 of title 47 of the United States code, to meet the
- de fi nition of the term “ a dva nc e d tele c ommunic ations c a pa bility,” a s de fine d in pa ra gra ph (1) of
- subsection (d) of section 1302 of title 47 of the United States code, or any higher speeds set forth
- in rules of the department.
- City fi na nc ia l a ssista nc e . T he te rm “ city fina nc ia l a ssista nc e” me a ns any loan, grant, tax
- credit, tax exemption, tax abatement, subsidy, mortgage, debt forgiveness, land conveyance for
- less than appraised value, land value or other thing of value allocated, conveyed or expended by
- the city.
- b. Internet service required. 1. An owner of a multiple dwelling comprising 10 dwelling
- units or more shall provide internet service to each dwelling unit therein for the use of the tenants
- and occupants of such dwelling unit by either:
- (a) Contracting for broadband internet service with a broadband internet service provider;
- (b) Directly connecting the dwelling unit to internet service by way of ethernet cable or
- successor technology, provided that such connection meets the same standards of service as a
- broadband internet service available to such multiple dwelling, including but not limited to
- maintenance and uptime guarantees.
- 2. The cost of internet service provided pursuant to this subdivision, including any related
- charges for connection, activation or convenience, shall not be passed on to a tenant.
- c. Facilities. Each dwelling unit within a multiple dwelling of 10 dwelling units or more
- shall have at least one port for ethernet cable connection in every living room within such unit.
- d. Wiring. A multiple dwelling of 10 dwelling units or more shall contain wiring as
- necessary to facilitate connection to internet service in each such dwelling unit therein as required
- by subdivision b of this section. Such wiring shall meet the standards of category 6 gigabit cabling,
- as established by the telecommunications industry association, or a successor grade sufficient to
- provide internet service pursuant to this section, as determined by the department.
- e. Prior existing multiple dwellings. An owner of a multiple dwelling of 10 or more
- dwelling units constructed on or before the effective date of the local law that added this section
- shall meet the requirements of this section no later than January 1, 2026, except that:
- 1. The requirements of this section shall be met by such owner before January 1, 2026, in
- any such multiple dwelling that undergoes alteration before such date, and no later than the
- completion of such alteration; and
- 2. The requirements of this section may be met in any such multiple dwelling where the
- owner of such multiple dwelling provides any service that the department determines is the
- functional equivalent of broadband internet service.
- f. Financial assistance. Subject to appropriation, the department of housing preservation
- and development shall assist owners of multiple dwellings of 10 or more dwelling units
- constructed on or before the effective date of the local law that added this section by providing
- city financial assistance to such owners.
- g. Rules. The department shall promulgate rules in furtherance of the provisions of this
- h. Additional internet service not prohibited. This section shall not be construed to limit a
- te na nt’s a bility to purc ha se , or a n owne r’s a bility to c ha rge for, internet service at a greater speed
- than that required by this section and the rules of the department, provided, however, that any
- charges by an owner for such service shall not include the cost of internet service required by
- subdivision b of this section, as provided in paragraph 2 of such subdivision.
- § 2. This local law takes effect 180 days after it becomes law, except that the department
- of housing preservation and development shall take such measures as are necessary for the
- implementation of this local law, including the promulgation of rules, before such date.