New York’s Broadband Infrastructure Will Suck for The Next Eight Years (UPDATE)


Yesterday, the Voice reported on New York’s tech industry, said to be the fastest growing in the U.S., according to a just released study.

Now with some good news came some bad news. Sure, the recession didn’t prevent 486 tech companies from starting here since 2007, nor has it slowed the flow of venture capital, up 32 percent in the city. However, New York’s broadband is said to suck: The study suggested that New York’s broadband infrastructure is a B or B-minus rating, which can be a death blow to web-based businesses.

So we set out to find what’s up with this. What did we find?

Nicholas Sbordone, spokesman for the City’s Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT), said that an agreement between New York and internet service providers inked in August would address connectivity concerns, but did confirm that the exact steps for how to address them — and measure success — had not been fully enacted.

Check it out. As part of that deal, Time Warner Cable is supposed to invest $1.2 million per year and Cablevision must pony up $600,000 yearly to bring fiber into un-served commercial buildings. For Time Warner, this includes laying 20 miles of cable per year on commercial blocks and wiring the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This agreement runs until July 2020.

These changes, however, are obviously not an instant fix. And because the service areas of both these companies don’t much overlap, it’s unclear how this would address a lack of broadband backup.

Sbordone tells the Voice: “We’re now strategizing about how to most effectively deploy these new enhancements to the city’s broadband infrastructure.”

So yes…something is supposed to happen at some point soon to address these broadband concerns, but that something has not happened quite yet, and there’s no fixed date.

The City says it’s still on track for a plan to expand FiOs access to all households by 2014.

UPDATE: The Department says that the FiOS expansion will provide broadband backup:

“The citywide franchise should provide virtually all areas with at least two ISPs, since Verizon has committed to reaching every New York City household by 2014 — and we’re seeing new residential buildings in areas throughout the five boroughs. So FiOS, plus the incumbent cable provider — be it Time Warner Cable or Cablevision, both of whom are investing millions to expand broadband infrastructure – should provide robust coverage.”