Eric Adams

lev radin/Shutterstock WindAwake/Shutterstock (Licensed) remix by Jason Reed

Why is New York City’s ambitious public internet plan on hold?

No one knows if or when it will come back.


Jacob Seitz


Posted on Jun 2, 2022   Updated on Jun 7, 2022, 4:14 pm CDT

New York’s bold new plan to bring public internet for New Yorkers who need it most has been put on hold, leaving millions of people in limbo, awaiting the high-speed connection they were promissed. .

The Internet Master Plan, which was introduced by former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, aimed to bring internet access to the city’s poorest communities, and help the 1.5 million New Yorkers who don’t have internet access at all. An early pilot of the plan brought connections to 45,000 residents of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings.

But, as the next phase of the project looms—involving a $157 million build-out of public infrastructure—the program is being re-evaluated, according to Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser. Part of the reason for the slowdown is the mayoral transition, as new NYC Mayor Eric Adams was sworn in in January, but experts say that excuse is tired.

“Anything that moves forward from this point, it’s this administration’s burden,” said Matt Fraser at a City Council hearing in May. Fraser is Chief Technology Officer for New York City. “We’re in the process of unpacking every component of the [plan] and deciding what’s the best way to move forward.”

The Internet Master Plan plan was proposed as a collaboration between city government and local businesses to extend fiber-optic infrastructure to New York’s poorest neighborhoods, giving residents the choice of multiple internet service providers. The plan was praised by politicians and experts alike for its attention to detail and equity, but the future of the plan remains unclear.

The Adams administration has put the plan on hold to double-check that it doesn’t call for new internet infrastructure in places where it already exists, according to Fraser. At the May hearing, Fraser said that the project was “under review.”

But, according to Gothamist, Fraser added that broadband was still “one of the most important priorities” for Adams.

“A lot of careful thought and time and effort—and funding, frankly—has gone into the project,” Greta Byrum, former co-director of the New School’s Digital Equity Lab, told Gothamist. “I don’t know why we would go back to the drawing board before we try and do something designed with equity at its center.”

It remains unclear how long the review will take, and if the city will even restart the plan, but millions of New Yorkers will continue to have limited access to the internet, or no access at all, in the meantime.

Correction: This post originally misattributed a quote by Matt Fraser. This post has been updated.

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*First Published: Jun 2, 2022, 9:27 am CDT