Friday’s event celebrated the installation of in-unit internet service at the Atlantic Terminal houses, as well as at the 272 Wyckoff Avenue building at Wyckoff Gardens and the Eugenia de Maria Hostos campus in Manhattan. NYCHA staff and Starry employees marked the occasion with a bill-cutting, a deviation from traditional ribbon-cuttings meant to symbolize the affordable internet access they aim on providing.
“Having access to broadband internet is a critical lifeline,” said Sideya Sherman, Executive Vice President for Community Engagement and Partnerships at NYCHA and the Executive Director of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity. “Not only is it how we access healthcare services, it is how we work, learn, access critical government resources, and how we socialize during the pandemic. It is a critical public utility like any other.”
Sherman continued: “The taskforce [on Racial Inclusion and Equity] was formed during the pandemic to ensure that the communities hardest hit by COVID come back stronger and healthier than ever. Not only does that mean ensuring access to the vaccine and healthcare services, but also giving people access to critical infrastructure like broadband internet.”
Expanding broadband internet access is one goal of the City’s ongoing Internet Master Plan. Originally introduced in January of 2020, the Plan has been pursued with increased speed and urgency since the onset of the pandemic.
“In a pandemic, digital poverty is poverty. And in the 21st century, digital rights are human rights,” said John Paul Farmer, Chief Technology Officer of New York City. “So in the 21st century digital inequity is inexcusable. Broadband is as essential to this generation as electricity was 100 years ago. A child’s opportunities in life should not be dictated by whether or not they can get online.”
In order to expand broadband accessibility, the City had to first expand the market for broadband internet. NYCHA has worked closely with the Chief Technology Officer Farmer’s office and the New York City Economic Development Corporation to find private sector partners willing to contribute quality low-cost broadband services. Starry was one of the companies that stepped up to the plate.
“Starry is so proud to be bringing affordable, high-quality broadband services to NYCHA residents,” said Alex Moulle-Berteaux, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer at Starry. “Over the past 18 months the pandemic has shown us the importance of connectivity, for learning, for work, for staying connected with family and friends. It also reflected the dark truth that many families are caught in the digital gap. Starry believes that everyone should have equal access to broadband service and that internet access is a social good.”
In addition to the bill-cutting ceremony, Starry staff hosted a back-to-school giveaway in front of the Atlantic Terminal Houses. They also spoke to NYCHA residents about the new internet service options available to them, offering information on how to sign up.
Starry’s new service is currently available in over a thousand NYCHA units, and the company is currently working on phase two of their NYCHA installation project, which will bring service to the remaining buildings at Wyckoff Gardens later this year. Elsewhere in the city, Starry provides internet service to a number of affordable housing developments, including the Knickerbocker Village in Manhattan
Interested New Yorkers can sign-up for service from Starry by visiting starry.com. There is no application process for signing up.
Robert Holden, Chair of the New York City Council Technology Committee, offered the following statement about the new internet service.
“Congratulations to Starry and NYCHA on what I hope will be just the beginning of a partnership that will provide universal broadband to New Yorkers who need it most,” Holden said. “It’s more clear than ever that broadband is a necessity for many aspects of life.”