Last month, the Center published New Tech City, a report which documented the spectacular rise of New York City's tech sector over the past few years but highlighted a handful of challenges that could inhibit the continued growth of this part of the city's economy. The report cited inadequate broadband connectivity as the second biggest threat facing New York’s tech sector, behind the lack of high-caliber engineering talent.
The report, which was funded by the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) and AT&T New York, concluded: "Though entrepreneurs in most parts of the city can access a fast broadband connection today ... New York’s telecom infrastructure is well behind where it should be for a city vying to be one of the nation’s two leading technology hubs." One of the study's recommendations called on city officials to "outline a series of steps to dramatically improve the city’s broadband and wireless infrastructure, and ensure that every New Yorker is connected to the Internet."
Yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn unveiled a package of proposals to expand broadband connectivity in New York as a way of bolstering the city’s tech sector. The new initiatives include: a competition to build out fiber wiring for commercial and industrial buildings, a grading program for connectivity in New York City buildings, a crowd-sourced digital map highlighting wired buildings citywide, a streamlined process for broadband-related permitting as well as exploring the streamlining of regulatory issues, and a competition to develop mobile applications to help residents access critical services provided by the City and community-based organizations.