New City Council Bill Proposes Free Internet for Every Apartment
Under a recently proposed bill by Council Member Ben Kallos, broadband Internet would be treated as a utility like electricity or hot water for apartments. If the bill is passed, existing buildings with 10 or more apartments would have until Jan. 1, 2026, to comply. And newly constructed apartments would also have to be wired for broadband under the bill.
According to Kallos, the bill will help close a “digital divide” among New Yorkers. According to his estimates, 500,000 people don’t have Internet access and struggle to apply for food benefits, work remotely, do homework, or book COVID-19 vaccine appointments. He said the Internet should be considered a utility.
The bill proposes that owners would provide Internet directly to every unit through ethernet and could purchase a bulk rate service contract with an Internet service provider such as Spectrum, Altice, Verizon, or RCN, which would provide landlords with more than a 50 percent discount on retail fees, bringing costs down to as little as $14.95 a month per unit for at least 25 megabits per second for downloads and 3 megabits per second for uploads. Owners wouldn’t be able to pass this cost on to tenants, but tenants would be able to pay for additional speed at no cost to the owner.
A fund to assist existing building owners with demonstrated financial need would be created and administered by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) under the new law.