(TNS) — The nation’s largest municipal broadband program has expanded by nearly 50%, now delivering free internet and basic cable television to approximately 300,000 New Yorkers in public housing, including all of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments on Staten Island.
Mayor Eric Adams, Chief Technology Officer and New York City Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) Commissioner Matthew Fraser were proud to announce on Thursday that “Big Apple Connect,” which launched in the fall, is now available at a total 202 NYCHA developments across the five boroughs.
Since last year, the program has expanded to 67 additional NYCHA developments and met the mayor’s goal of reaching more than 200 NYCHA properties by the end of 2023 ahead of schedule.
“Six months ago, I promised that we would bridge the digital divide for NYCHA residents, and today I’m proud to deliver on that commitment ahead of schedule,” Adams said. “Internet isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity, and today we’re proud to connect hundreds of thousands more New Yorkers to opportunities and the future.”
Big Apple Connect is part of the city’s efforts to reach digital equity, providing a resource that has become integral to everyday life.
“As we learned during the pandemic, access to high-speed internet is a necessity rather than an amenity. Expanding ‘Big Apple Connect’ will fulfill another goal of ‘Housing Our Neighbors,’ the city’s housing and homelessness blueprint,” Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz said. “Ending the digital divide is one more way of addressing racial disparities, expanding economic opportunity and improving quality of life for tenants.”
Big Apple Connect provides NYCHA residents with a free bundle consisting of in-home, high-speed internet connection, including a modem and router; basic cable television service, including a cable box and remote control; and common area Wi-Fi hotspots, selected in consultation with NYCHA.
“A better-connected New York City is a safer, more prosperous, and more equitable New York City,” Fraser said. “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 has entered into three-year agreements with Altice (Optimum) and Charter (Spectrum), which will collectively cover the majority of developments owned and managed by NYCHA. OTI is billed directly for all residents enrolled in Big Apple Connect.
With the expansion, Big Apple Connect will reach an additional 25 developments in Manhattan, 20 in Brooklyn, 14 in the Bronx, 5 in Queens and 3 in Staten Island.
Big Apple Connect is available for new and existing customers of Spectrum or Charter that live in NYCHA developments where the program is active. Existing customers will be automatically enrolled into the program and only billed for additional services that they purchase directly. Residents will receive emails and regular mail notifications explaining why their bills are lower and additional information about Big Apple Connect.
New customers at the eligible NYCHA developments can sign up directly through Optimum or Spectrum or attend on-site enrollment events conducted by the companies in partnership with OTI.
More information about Big Apple Connect and a list of the NYCHA developments where it is available can be found at https://www.nyc.gov/assets/bigappleconnect/index.html.
© 2023 Staten Island Advance, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.