New York's Broadband Sucks. Is Anything Being Done To Fix It?

A study came out yesterday claiming that New York has the "fastest-growing" tech industry in the U.S.

That research, conducted by the Center for an Urban Future, sure made a lot of people happy . (Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has long said that the Big Apple needs to become less economically dependent on Wall Street, must be celebrating.)

This is cool stuff, and pretty impressive too, considering that the recession hasn't kept 486 tech companies from starting here since 2007, nor has it slowed venture capital. Instead, that kind of investment is up 32 percent in New York, though it's down by more than 10 percent in the rest of the country.

But there's a big problem: New York's broadband SUCKS.

The New York Times' writeup went into this a little, but the point to be emphasized is this: The study's authors gave New York's broadband infrastructure a B or B-minus rating.

This doesn't sound too bad, but when businesses are web-based, this can be as much a death blow as a failing grade.

"Though entrepreneurs in most parts of the city can access a fast broadband connection today, many of those we interviewed said that New York's telecom infrastructure is well behind where it should be for a city vying to be one of the nation's two leading technology hubs," the study notes.

What it comes down to is that New York -- despite being the world's media capital -- does not have adequate access or bandwidth to support tech companies' needs.

For example, some companies might be able to get either FIOS or Time Warner Cable, but not both, which means they can't have broadband backup.

"It's like the elephant in the room is that bandwidth here sucks," one entrepreneur told the researchers. "You should be able to walk into any building and have at least 150 megabit connection available to you. There has to be ways for the city to construct much better bandwidth availability for start-ups."

Many cited told the researchers that their internet routinely goes down. And startups who want to set up shop in cheaper, industrial districts often can't, because the cable companies would rather provide service to more lucrative residential areas. Sometimes, telecom concerns are willing to dig up streets and lay cable, but at a hefty price -- around $80,000.

The Voice wanted to see what the City and State are doing to address this. So we called the New York State's Broadband Program Office and the City's Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT) to see what's up. We haven't heard back. Though it looks like there are a lot of DoITT programs in place to increase residential and individual access -- such as broadband in parks and connectivity for underprivileged high-school students -- it's unclear what's being done to address these issues. We'll update when we hear back.

Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.

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Yes New Yorks broadband sucks, so does the entire country for that matter  and no nothings being done about it. That's because the broadband market is an entirely deregulated monopoly and everyone knows this. Its so ironic that the country that invented the internet is so far behind the rest of the world when it comes to availability and price. Every other developed nation has regulated their broadband market but here in America, the politicians that the telcos have basically bought, want us to think that the "competitive" market place will keep availability high and prices low for the consumer. In fact that couldn't be further from reality. Instead of "competing" providers are actually cooperating to get the very most out of us. This cooperation became crystal clear when Verizon and Comcast began selling each others services. Fierce competitors don't sell one another services. The cable companies won the title for best broadband provider a long time ago and trying to surf the internet without it these days won't get you very far. The phone companies know this and have completely left the landline market to go after the wireless sector leaving just about everyone at the mercy of just one monopolistic provider and if you live in New York, chances are it's Time Warner Cable.  

I wouldn't hold your breath in waiting for a response back from the New York State broadband program office.  Unless you're a millionaire or a politician the four friendly folks that run the office could care less about your broadband situation. I know, four people is hardly enough man power to handle this situation but that's all that New York has to offer. Just look at how well they did on the New York State Broadband map. It could not be anymore inaccurate it's almost comical.  It basically shows every home in New York as having two wired providers which makes you wonder if they're just lying to make people interested in moving here think they'll have hundreds of broadband providers to choose from when more than likely they'll have none or one at the most. I want to point out also that this map cost the tax-payers 8.6 MILLION DOLLARS to make. Doesn't that make you mad? Your government wasted 8.6 million dollars in the name of providing better broadband for us all only to turn around and draw up a colorful map that shows we already have it when we don't. You know what's going on right? They squandered that money and spent it on themselves and even gave 5 million dollars to Time Warner Cable. I laughed when I saw in the paper the other day that Time Warner Cable's rates are going up in the North country. The rates keep going up but the service stays the same.

If I sound bitter it's only because I am. We bought a house that Time Warner Cable said they serviced. When we moved in they changed their minds and said they couldn't unless I paid 62 THOUSAND DOLLARS. I can assure you if I'd have known that I might have thought twice about buying it. Come to find out I wasn't alone and my new town of North Bangor had absolutely no means of accessing the Internet. No broadband, no DSL, (even though the 8.6 million dollar map says there is) not even wireless (which again the map shows available). The poor people of this community have been trying for 30 YEARS to get Time Warner to extend their lines to no avail. So much for competition. Later I found out that the town had applied for a piece of that 32 million dollars the state awarded to areas with little or no broadband service only to be denied by the broadband gods at the office in Albany. The funding would have brought service to 335 homes within 40 miles that have absolutely no means of accessing the Internet other than dial up. That's pretty insulting when you stop and think about it. The broadband program office says "no you don't deserve such a privilege but we're going to use your money to build in areas we prefer" Places like the majestic and beautiful Adirondack Park where most of the funding went. We're all just a bunch of neanderthals up here that think the internet's witchcraft; that's seriously what the people in Albany think. So while the fcc goes ahead with its "Gigabyte City Challenge" which is supposed to create at least one community in all 50 states that have one gigabyte per second download speed, North Bangor NY has 0 download speed. This is ridiculous. I live in the Empire State of America, the highest taxed state in the nation, in 2013, and I cant get the internet. That's just as much frustrating as it is fascinating. This country beat Russia to the moon, is 2-0 in world wars, and I cant get the internet because I live in too "remote" of a location. There's 29 houses within one mile of me! Why aren't more people outraged by this? Why are we complacent with a monopoly and letting the government use our money for themselves? Why don't we fight for what's right? I know, I know, I'm over reacting and should just be happy with what I have. I guess Rosa Parks should have just been thankful to have a bus to ride on and take her seat in the back. I guess the early American settler's should have been thankful for what the king was providing them with and just paid the taxes on tea and not make such a big deal. Whatever happened to the American will to see a problem and fix it? Broadband is a monopoly and you know it. You're paying way too much for internet access because you have no choice. If you get T.V., internet, and phone chances are that bill is higher than both your heating and electric bill. That's wrong. Internet access is natural born human right that should be available to everyone at an affordable price. Broadband is a servant of the people and a good government would make sure all citizens had an equal opportunity to participate in it regardless of location or social class. There shouldn't be a single home in New York that lacks access to a broadband connection of at least 10mbps download 2 upload and i emphasize at least. Just because someone lives in rural or not-so-rural America doesn't make them a second class citizen.

Call up the broadband program office and ask them what their plan is. Don't be surprised by the sounds of crickets in the background. Tell them that's not good enough and we don't appreciate our tax money being so carelessly thrown around. Call up the governors office and ask where's the timeline that predicts what areas are going to receive broadband that don't have it and which areas are going to upgraded. Call the FCC and ask why this powerful necessity isn't regulated and we have to rely on a shady, immoral, cable dealer who doesn't care that our children need it for their education.

America is a representative democracy meaning those that are elected represent mainly the people. But Time Warner and Comcast are literally paying government to represent them over us. This is the real corruption thats going on in Washington.

North Bangor has absolutely no broadband providers. It sucks. New York is the highest taxed state in the nation and it has an office dedicated to the problem and its attempt at fixing the issue is pathetic.


This is a good article that raises attention to basic infrastructure! Broadband are critical assets in our day and age, especially as we rely more and more with online technology. So let's keep this focus. One other way would be to document specific issues of an internet incident (slowdowns, disconnection, etc.) at (under cyberspace or telecom sections). We can together help raise awareness for public managers and policymakers.

Rick Shaw
Rick Shaw

Great job. A topic that needs MUCH more airing; especially after yesterdays hype study.

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