Guerrilla Wi-Fi Comes to New York #Internet #NewYork
NYC Mesh, a band of a few dozen tech volunteers, takes on Verizon and the big “incumbent providers,” with the promise of inexpensive community internet in the New York City area in a NY Times article.
NYC Mesh is one of many fixed-wireless outfits in New York City. They range from community-owned models — like the D.I.Y. “internet in a box” efforts led by the digital justice organization Community Tech NY, and the internet cooperative People’s Choice, started by former Spectrum strikers — to smaller for-profits like Starry, a Boston-based start-up rolling out flat-rate internet plans of $50 a month in large urban markets including New York City.
NYC Mesh covers more neighborhoods than the others and is the largest community network in the city by far. Yet it’s still small, serving only about 800 households, concentrated in Lower Manhattan and central Brooklyn. That’s a tiny slice of the 2.2 million New York City households with broadband at home, usually through one of the “incumbent providers,” as they are known: Verizon, Spectrum or Optimum.
But with NYC Mesh’s expansion into Brownsville, and a new contract with the city to place routers on a handful of housing developments, the one million New Yorkers who don’t have broadband — 46 percent of households in poverty lack a home connection — might soon have another, more affordable choice. “To grow, we need to be on more tall buildings,” said Brian Hall, the founder of NYC Mesh. The pandemic has actually helped his initiative get there, and it might encourage New Yorkers to think about the internet in a new way — as a utility that everyone should be able to access.
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