The de Blasio administration is in the early phases of exploring how it can turn some of the city’s 250,000-plus streetlights into high-speed public Wi-Fi hotspots, the New York Post reports. The move would advance Mayor de Blasio’s goal of bringing “affordable, reliable, high-speed” internet to the city by 2025.
The initiative is hardly out of the gate: The city has yet to determine if the plan would actually work, let alone how much it would cost to implement. The concept is similar to the LinkNYC kiosks that brought free Wi-Fi and public charging outlets to city sidewalks.
In November 2017, the mayor issued a request for information to internet service providers and related fields seeking ideas on how access to high-speed, affordable internet can be increased in the coming decade. It’s unclear whether the idea to harness the city’s streetlights is related, but Curbed has reached out to City Hall for clarification.
This wouldn’t be the first time the city’s streetlights have been used for telecom equipment. About 6,400 poles are already used or reserved by private companies, and a few streetlights throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn are already rigged up with free city Wi-Fi.
The move to diversify access to high-speed public Wi-Fi would be one more step in the city’s agenda to combat the grip a select few telecom companies have on the city’s access to Wi-Fi. A source of the Post’s said the city is hoping the Wi-Fi will compete with Verizon, who Mayor de Blasio has had a long-standing beef with. (City Hall vehemently denies this.)
In de Blasio’s days as public advocate, he accused Verizon of making its FiOS network unobtainable to low-income communities, and last year the administration sued Verizon for failing to meet its promise to provide FiOS to all NYC households.