New York City launches competition to give free broadband to 240 businesses

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced the next phase in his effort to expand the technology economy in New York City. A new technology competition called ConnectNYC will give winning companies a free high speed fiber Internet connection. The competition is designed to assist small or medium-sized businesses in unwired or underwired buildings. As CivSource reported, the Mayor and the New York City Economic Development Corporation are pushing several initiatives like this to grow the city as a tech hub.

Awards will be given to companies based on a set of evaluation criteria, including how additional connectivity will help them grow their businesses, the potential to improve broadband infrastructure in underserved areas, and the business’ proximity to other applicants. Once the winning businesses are selected, Time Warner Cable Business Class and Cablevision, which have partnered with the City on this initiative, will commence free fiber build-out, with over 100 businesses expected to be fiber wired in the first year of the program.

By the end of the second year of the program the total number of businesses is expected to reach 240. Companies can apply to the competition for this year through November 27,2012.

Applications can be submitted by individual businesses only, and will be evaluated on proximity to areas currently underserved by broadband infrastructure; proximity to other applying businesses in order to encourage clustering and efficiency in broadband installation; and the anticipated impact of having broadband access on business operations. As part of the application process, applicants must obtain a signed letter of consent from their landlord at the time of submission. In order to ensure the competition serves businesses across all sectors, a minimum of 25% of the overall award value will be granted to businesses located in Industrial Business Zones.

New York’s efforts are similar to other big initiatives announced in places like Chicago and states like Iowa who are working to attract as many technology focused businesses as they can. Many state and local leaders are coming around to broadband as a critical part of their local infrastructures despite efforts by providers to create hurdles to that. The New York City partnership represents the push from municipal leaders to work on public private partnerships albeit at a smaller scale.

“In today’s world, broadband is a vital piece of infrastructure, and we need to make sure New York City’s wiring is competitive with other cities,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Expanding broadband across the city is part of our strategy to make New York City a great place to do business and create jobs.”