New York: New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the launch of Connect IBZ: Broadband Expansion in Industrial Business Zones (Connect IBZ), a $5.3 million public-private partnership that will construct access to high-speed Internet in IBZs in New York City by expanding broadband infrastructure in these currently underserved areas. The program will create high-speed commercial broadband networks in the Southwest Brooklyn, Long Island City, North Brooklyn, and Greenpoint-Williamsburg IBZs, which are among the City’s “digital deserts.” Fast and reliable broadband access has become increasingly critical for businesses of all types in New York City and Connect IBZ will help increase access to broadband connectivity for hundreds of businesses. The networks in the four IBZs will be designed, constructed, maintained and operated by Stealth Communications Services LLC, and Xchange Telecom LLC, two New York City-based Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
“High-speed Internet is critical to the success of businesses in the 21st century economy, and it is imperative that we support Industrial Business Zones with the necessary infrastructure so that they can continue to provide quality jobs for New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC Interim President Kim Vaccari. “Connect IBZ provides broadband access to underserved industrial businesses in Brooklyn and Queens, bringing increased opportunities to hundreds of businesses in former Digital Deserts.”
“The de Blasio administration is committed to closing the digital divide. Ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to broadband connectivity is central to that strategy,” said Maya Wiley, Counsel to the Mayor. “The Mayor is investing in new solutions. Thanks to this partnership with the state and local entrepreneurs, the City will make ultra-high speed service available for the first time in these outer borough neighborhoods.”
Through the Connect IBZ program, Stealth Communications will build a fiber optic network in the Southwest Brooklyn IBZ, and will work with NYCEDC and members of the community to determine a site for an outdoor wireless network that will be free to the public. Xchange Telecom will create a fiber core, fixed-wireless edge broadband network in the Long Island City, North Brooklyn, and Greenpoint-Williamsburg IBZs, enabling customers to receive service from network hubs wirelessly via rooftop-mounted equipment. Customers signing up for service from either provider will have access to service at speeds from 10 megabits per second to one gigabit per second or higher. Both ISPs will work closely with community organizations in the IBZs to ensure that the network design and business outreach processes are informed by local priorities and provide local benefits. Kickoff events will be held this summer in each of the IBZs, where commercial tenants will be able to learn more about the program and sign up for service.
Businesses in the IBZs interested in upgraded broadband service may visit http://www.nycedc.com/connectibz to learn more about these events and submit their information to be put in touch with the ISPs as service rolls out in their area.
NYCEDC will provide over $1.6 million for the program from the New York State Connect NY Broadband Grant Program. This funding will be supplemented by private contributions from the ISPs totaling over $3.75 million. Project funding will cover the costs of network creation as well as build-outs to at least 500 commercial tenants over two years, with both ISPs investing in further network expansion beyond the contract term. Commercial tenants in the IBZs will benefit from access to newer and more reliable technologies as well as faster Internet speeds. This initial investment in broadband infrastructure will serve as a launching pad for future growth and help ensure these areas remain competitive with other real estate in the city for attracting and retaining innovative businesses.
The Connect IBZ project areas were selected through a publicly-issued Request for Expressions of Interest, and the providers were selected through a public Request for Proposals issued in summer 2014.
“As the Council’s Engines of Opportunity report documented, New York’s Industrial Business Zones are critical economic assets that the Council is proud to support,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The selection of these companies to provide better broadband access is an important step to improving the infrastructure in these areas and we look forward to working with the administration to strengthen our IBZ’s citywide.”
“Delivering reliable and affordable high speed broadband to our burgeoning Industrial Business Zones is essential to realizing the promise of Brooklyn’s economic future and the thousands of local jobs it can create,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “High speed broadband is the interstate highway system of the 21st century; failing to be connected is not an option. My economic vision for our borough is keyed on access to high speed broadband, and I appreciate the partnership of the New York City Economic Development Corporation to turn that vision into a prosperous reality.”
“Nowadays, access to high-speed broadband can make or break a business,” said Councilmember James Vacca, Chair of the Committee on Technology. “NYCEDC’s Connect IBZ Broadband Expansion is a big step in the right direction by expanding broadband networks in currently underserved areas, and will go a long way to improve the growth of businesses throughout New York City. I commend the administration for taking initiative on internet access, and I look forward to watching this project’s progress.”
“You simply can’t survive in the modern commercial world if you don’t have high speed internet,” said Councilmember Daniel R. Garodnick. “I commend the Economic Development Corporation on its launch of Connect IBZ, which will help give industrial businesses the tools they need to stay competitive.”
“Business can’t thrive without connectivity,” said Councilmember Carlos Menchaca. “This new high-speed fiber optic internet network in southwest Brooklyn’s Industrial Business zone will be welcome news to hundreds of commercial tenants. I commend NYCEDC and SBIDC for their foresight and years of hard work creating a vibrant business environment. I welcome NYC-based Stealth Communications to our community and look forward to their innovative solutions. Serving the public with a free high-speed wireless network in areas near the project will help knit together the lives of residents, businesses and workers in Sunset Park. This is vivid proof that responsible economic development can embrace communities adjacent to industrial zones.”
“Fast, reliable broadband access has become essential to the success of small businesses and manufacturers in today’s competitive environment,” said Councilmember Stephen Levin. “EDC’s innovative Connect IBZ program will extend this vital infrastructure across North Brooklyn’s IBZs and make the borough, and New York City as a whole, more attractive to commercial enterprises.”
“This expansion of Broadband into our City’s Industrial Business Zones can make the difference of sustainability for some of these businesses,” said Councilmember Antonio Reynoso. “Having access to high speed internet will support their growth and positively promote the work they do Citywide! I’m excited that IBZ’s in my District can look forward to efficient internet connection this summer and look forward to the launch. I’d like to recognize the Economic Development Corporation for their efforts to support our industrial businesses to successfully compete in our markets.”
“Expanding Long Island City’s access to high-speed, reliable broadband service is going to help strengthen one of our City’s fastest growing tech sectors as well as enhance and strengthen our local economy,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “I applaud the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s efforts to tackle our City’s “digital deserts” and I look forward toward working with them to ensure Long Island City continues to thrive.”
“Access to high-speed broadband is critical for growing and retaining business in New York State,” said Executive Director of the New York State Broadband Program David Salway. “Without robust broadband infrastructure, businesses cannot remain competitive in today’s 21st century global economy. We are extremely pleased that through Governor Cuomo’s Connect NY Broadband Grant Program, unserved businesses in the NYC region will benefit from these key infrastructure improvements.”
“For 20 years Stealth’s mission has been serving New York City businesses with ultrafast Internet connectivity,” said Managing Member of Stealth Communications Shrihari Pandit. “We are honored to receive support from the City and State — the grant speeds our expansion into Brooklyn and brings down broadband costs for businesses throughout the IBZ.”
“Xchange Telecom is honored to be a key part of the NYCEDC Connect IBZ project,” said Xchange Telecom CEO Alfred West. “Xchange will deliver business class broadband services as well as state of the art Communications services to the rapidly growing and thriving business community located throughout the Connect IBZ footprint”.
“We consistently hear from our businesses in the IBZs, particularly those in smaller, older buildings, that access to high speed, reliable, affordable broadband is essential to their future success,” said President of the Long Island City Partnership Elizabeth Lusskin. “This is true whether you are operating a more traditional industrial company that uses tech on your sales and administrative side, or one of our many companies where tech forms the core of the business. Increasing broadband on an area-wide basis will also help Long Island City maintain a competitive edge over areas outside the city that seek to lure our companies away.”
“We’re so glad Connect IBZ is getting off the ground,” said Executive Director of Evergreen Leah Archibald. “So many businesses complain about spotty telephone and internet service in North Brooklyn. This program will provide relief for these businesses, helping them respond to their customers’ needs in a timely fashion.”
“The Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SBIDC) is thrilled that the businesses of Southwest Brooklyn will soon benefit from widespread and reliable broadband internet access,” said Executive Director of SBIDC David Meade. “For years now throughout Sunset Park, short and sometimes long term internet outages are very common. We hear from businesses all the time of the challenges in conducting business day in and day out because of faulty and inconsistent internet service. With all the challenges of running a small business, an improved and fast internet service will help the myriad of businesses not only with everyday operations but also add to their ability to expand their business.”
Connect IBZ is part of City’s larger suite of initiatives to expand broadband connectivity and increase high-speed Internet access for commercial businesses and entrepreneurs, including WiredNYC, an initiative aimed at bringing transparency to broadband connectivity in NYC’s commercial buildings and the NYC Broadband Map, which provides an up-to-date view of the availability of broadband infrastructure in commercial buildings as well as a view of emerging demand for broadband services in the City’s commercial buildings and neighborhoods. Additionally, the City remains committed to the expansion of broadband and high-speed Internet access throughout all five boroughs. In November 2014, Mayor de Blasio announced LinkNYC, an initiative that will bring the world’s fastest municipal Wi-Fi to millions of New Yorkers by replacing an aging network of public pay telephones with state-of-the-art connection points.
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