New York, NY-On Wednesday, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and Bronx Borough
President Ruben Diaz Jr. along with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Manhattan Borough
President Gale A. Brewer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Staten Island Borough President
James Oddo outlined a Five Borough Broadband Bill of Rights to improve Internet speeds across the
City, create stronger oversight and accountability and ensure greater community involvement in the
proposal to create a free public WiFi system across New York City. The Franchise and Concession
Review Committee (FCRC), on which Comptroller Stringer and the five Borough Presidents sit, will hold
a hearing on Monday to discuss the draft franchise agreement for CityBridge LLC to create the
“LinkNYC” WiFi system.
The main components of the Five Borough Broadband Bill of Rights are:
1. Ending Internet Inequality – The Administration should ensure that the contract provides for
equal WiFi speed throughout all five boroughs. Currently, the contract provides that public
phones with advertising receive up to 1 gigabit of speed, while in other areas of the City, public
phones without advertising would receive 100 megabits of speed. Nearly two-thirds of the
faster access points are slated to be in Manhattan, compared to only 6 percent in the Bronx.
2. A Stronger, More Accountable Contract – Stronger oversight provisions are necessary to
ensure that contract requirements are met and accountability measures are robust. Currently, the
contract permits the commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and
Telecommunications (DoITT) to waive various contract requirements, including siting, removal
and replacement schedules and technology requirements.
3. Greater Transparency on Revenue Forecasts and Redistribution – The contract is premised
on a business model that puts advertising dollars ahead of people. The public should know
what assumptions CityBridge’s business model is based on, including how much revenue is
being generated by the advertising and where those funds will be going.
4. Community Consultation – The contract should include language that ensures that the process
of deploying WiFi across the City is executed with the interests and input of communities in
every borough. Just as the Department of Transportation engaged community stakeholders,
business improvement districts, community boards, and the public regarding siting of CitiBike stations, so too DoITT should work with the vendor(s) to craft a detailed, robust plan for community engagement.
5. Sustainability and Resiliency: The contract should require design enhancements which would
allow the system to make use of alternative energy sources, like solar power, while also
reducing its reliance on the existing power grid. Moreover, following the widespread power
outages that occurred during Superstorm Sandy, greater detail is needed on how the system
would function in the event of a disaster that causes power outages.
“LinkNYC leaves too many questions unanswered and too many New Yorkers out of the Internet fast
lane. Creating the world’s largest public WiFi system is forward-thinking and a necessary step to keep
New York City first among global cities. We need guarantees in writing to ensure that everyone has
equal access to high-speed Internet, that our communities are consulted when decisions are made about
how to deploy this technology, and that this contract provides for state-of-the-art public WiFi, now and in
the future,” said New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer.
“I want to make sure we bridge the digital divide, but we have to make sure we do it in the right way.
Access to high-speed Internet cannot be based on the presumed advertising revenue available in any given
neighborhood. DoITT must ensure that LinkNYC is implemented in a way that is equitable, sustainable,
resilient, and meets the needs of the people of this City regardless of their neighborhood or income level,”
said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“I cannot imagine supporting a franchise for the expansion of free municipal Wi-Fi service that does not
close the digital divide in our city. Every community must be connected to the information superhighway,
in an equitable fashion, so we can make sure no New Yorker is left behind as we travel towards progress.
I am working closely with my fellow borough presidents on reviewing the plan in front of the FCRC and
discussing related ideas. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the de Blasio administration to
discuss these issues, as well as the siting of these services,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric
“I have been advocating for greater public access to the Internet for many years now and strongly support
the goals of this proposal to provide free, public, city-wide WiFi. I do have concerns with the
implementation of the program. Together with my colleagues in the other four Borough Presidents’
offices, I have asked the administration to create a formalized process for community input into the siting
of the WiFi kiosks; to increase the number of units outside the major business districts; and to develop a
plan to upgrade speeds in the kiosks without advertising, most of which are most of which are in northern Manhattan and the other boroughs. I look forward to addressing these issues with the administration so that we may move forward in getting free public WiFi into our communities,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer.
“We’re thrilled that free, citywide public WiFi is on the way, but without equitable access throughout the
city, this is a plan that divides. Queens deserves access to the highest public WiFi speed and cannot
approve a proposal that does not have a plan to ensure equity and a process for community input. The
administration needs to formalize a siting agreement for Queens, including how, when and where they
will increase the number of WiFi kiosks and how they plan to ensure equitable access,” said Queens
Borough President Melinda Katz.
“In numerous conversations with my colleagues, they have raised many legitimate questions regarding
siting, speeds, resiliency, and many other issues of concern. I believe it is important that we stand united
to ensure these issues are adequately addressed and resolved,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo