Mayor Adams and his chief technology officer, Matthew Fraser, are expected to unveil a plan on Sunday to install hundreds of new kiosks that will enable free wireless internet service, faster connections and free phone calls, along with several other features.
The plan aims to bridge the city’s digital divide, and over the next few years the city plans to bring 739 new kiosks to neighborhoods that lack adequate internet service. Overall, the city plans to install 2,000 new 5G, or fifth-generation, kiosks across the five boroughs over the next few years.
“We want to reach out to those who have historically had the least access and get them parity,” Fraser told the Daily News. “Because when we look at broadband these days, broadband and connectivity have grown in relevance, in importance to the point where it’s no longer a luxury, it’s as essential as having water , especially for children of school age.
Fraser and Adams plan to unveil the first of the new kiosks on W. Burnside Ave on Sunday. in the Bronx.
Typically, new hotspots will have a range of about 1,000 feet and will allow most people within that range to access free high-speed Internet service, Fraser said. Access will work the same way travelers can access a hotel’s wifi service.
Around 1,900 wireless hotspots are already in place and use somewhat older technology. The new kiosks, which are produced by LinkNYC, will allow users better connectivity, access to a wider range of information and faster speeds.
Fraser pointed to remote schooling during pandemic shutdowns as a key example of why the new kiosks are needed.
He pointed to the situations in which children could not connect to the internet, preventing them from doing their schoolwork, but he also noted that the plan was not only about educational parity – he wanted equality when it comes to how children can socialize. and how adults are also looking for jobs.
“If you don’t have broadband, you can’t compete,” Fraser said. “If you don’t have broadband at home and you’re unemployed and you’re looking to upscale and you’re trying to find new job opportunities, but the thing that connects you to that, you don’t have access to – it further perpetuates the condition you’re in and can’t find a way out of.