Mayor’s New Legal Counsel to Push for Universal Broadband

February 18, 2014 Updated: July 18, 2015

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio made the first step toward rectifying the problem of access to broadband Internet in New York City, something he believes is shockingly uneven.

The mayor appointed Maya Wiley as his legal counsel Tuesday, and said that fixing problems related to broadband access would be one of her priorities.

New York City already has nearly 100 percent broadband Internet availability for residential units, according to the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). But Wiley and de Blasio said that the access is not as available as some provider maps suggest.

“Some people have really inadequate access to high-speed Internet services despite the fact that technically you can look on the map and see that there are providers,” Wiley said. “I actually don’t think there is 100 percent penetration in a way that’s meaningful for people.”

Both the mayor and Wiley tied the broadband issue to the progressive administration’s definitive theme of income inequality. According to Wiley, how affordable broadband access is, will be one of the issues looked into. The city has many levers to deal with providers, and it will be using all of them, de Blasio said.

According to the DoITT website, the real issue in New York City is not lack of access to broadband Internet, but its adoption. The digital divide is especially pronounced when it comes to people with low incomes and seniors.

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