‘Welcome to Mesh Brother’: Guerrilla Wi-Fi Coming to New York


Before the final vision, the city’s last major broadband intervention was negotiated in 2006 under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. New York entered a franchise. Deal with Verizon This gave the company the privilege of burying the fiber optic cable under city streets in exchange for installing high-speed Fios in each neighborhood. But Verizon’s couldn’t do that in many low-income neighborhoods. At a public hearing in April, the city’s chief technology officer, John Paul Farmer, said the relatively small number of providers in some neighborhoods meant there was little market pressure to drive prices down. “The current oligopolistic system has broken down and brought digital inequality to the streets and neighborhoods of New York,” he said.

The city has recently settlement It requires Verizon to connect an additional 500,000 households by 2023, with at least 125,000 in underserved neighborhoods.

Verizon spokesman Chris Serico said the company is on track to meet the terms of the deal. “Verizon is committed to finding long-term solutions that offer affordable broadband options to low-income Americans,” Mr. Serico said in an email.

Clayton Banks, CEO of Silicon Harlem, a company focused on increasing connectivity in Harlem, said he hopes the city’s strategy to bet on more competition will work, but expects to see how Fios and existing providers are priced. . “Of course, if you continue to build infrastructure that is welcome and necessary, but keep the same retail price,” he said, “you don’t solve anything about getting more people online.”

Months later, NYC Mesh gave the green light to put a centerpiece on its 24-story public housing tower in Bed-Stuy, along with two other developments in the Bronx and Queens. Four other smaller providers, including Silicon Harlem, selected To connect 10 other NYCHA developments. As part of Phase One of the Internet Master Plan, where the city will divert $157 million, NYC Mesh has set up free public hotspots in the outskirts of projects; other companies must provide residents with Wi-Fi access in their apartments for no more than $20 per month.

NYC Mesh has applied to create headquarters in an additional 163 public buildings as part of Phase Two. If successful, this will allow NYC Mesh to cover most of the city in the next five to seven years. Because every router setup comes with a free public Wi-Fi hotspot, NYC Mesh can help make the internet truly universal in New York City.

Although NYC Mesh is constantly growing, it still faces the same problem as major providers: Internet drops sometimes. Mr. Heredia and other volunteers take pride in resolving service issues quickly, but as the organization expands, it will need more people like Mr. Heredia if it wants to keep its members happy.


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