Possibly the biggest local policy issue in NYC for tech companies is the lack of good broadband infrastructure in the city. We could get into a debate about broadband policy at the local and national level, but this post isn't going to be about that. This post is about something City Hall is doing about the broadband issue.
In the spirit of "race to the top" and other contest based efforts to attack stubborn problems, NYC has launched the ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge in partnership with Time Warner Cable and Optimum Online (Cablevision) to provide fiber build out to businesses.
Here's how it works. You sign up at ConnectNYC, you get and sumbit a letter from your landlord saying they will allow fiber installation in your building, and then you describe how high speed broadband will positively impact your business.
The judges will select the winners and NYC EDC, Time Warner, and Optimum will invest $12mm over two years, with $7mm being invested in year one, into fiber buildouts for the winners. It is estimated that each installation will have a value of $50,000 of investment by Time Warner and Optimum.
In addition to getting a lot of local businesses high speed broadband, this contest will also give an indication to the city and local ISPs of where the most important neighborhoods are for broadband buildout.
We spend a lot of time with our portfolio companies dealing with infrastructure issues around real estate and broadband and I can tell you that this is big problem in NYC. Companies that want to move to low cost neighborhoods with interesting buildings like Red Hook, Gowanus, Vinegar Hill, the Greenpoint waterfront, Long Island City, and other similar places simply cannot do that due to the lack of good broadband. If the city wants to see these neighborhoods emerge commercially, they will need to deal wtih the broadband problem. ConnectNYC is a nice way to get going on the problem. If you are struggling to get a fiber installation in your building, give ConnectNYC a try.