Currently, two-in-five New York City households lack either a home broadband connection or mobile broadband through cell service.
In Queens, 22% of households do not have a home broadband internet connection.
New York City Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Matthew Fraser today joined LinkNYC CEO Nick Colvin and NYC Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez to launch the Queens Gigabit Center at the Allen Community Senior Citizens Center, located in the Jamaica neighborhood. This Gigabit Center – the first-of-its-kind in Queens and third launched in NYC this year – will provide free high-speed Internet, access to computers, and technology training, as part of the City’s ongoing efforts to help bridge the digital divide.
“Older New Yorkers suffered avoidable social, healthcare, and economic hardships during the pandemic due to our city’s Digital Divide,” said New York City Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser. “With one-fifth of our city’s residents over 60, this administration’s digital equity efforts by necessity have a strong focus on enhancing the lives of this important population. This new Gigabit Center will serve as a vital hub for increasing access to free high-speed internet, computers, and digital literacy training. I thank Mayor Adams for his unparalleled commitment to leveraging technology to ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New Yorkers and our partners at CityBridge and the Allen Community Senior Citizens Center for their tireless efforts to deliver empowering opportunities to Queens.”
“In Queens and across the city, millions of New Yorkers still find it too hard or expensive to get online, which is simply unacceptable in 2022,” said Nick Colvin, CEO, LinkNYC. “Our Gigabit Centers across New York City will play a vital role in connecting New Yorkers with broadband connectivity and the digital literacy they need to thrive in our online society. The opening of the Queens Gigabit Center marks another important milestone in our efforts to bring digital connectivity to New Yorkers across the five boroughs, and we are excited to bring this important resource to Queens residents.”
“With the expansion of online systems and the rapid population growth of older New Yorkers, there is an increased need for older adults to be adept at navigating the digital world,” said Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “The Queens Gigabit Center, located in the Allen Community Older Adult Center, is another major step forward in bridging the digital divide among those living in Southeast Queens. I applaud our City’s Chief Technology Officer Matt Fraser, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, and the other key partners for their mutual commitment to reducing the digital divide, and creating an even more age-inclusive city.”
The newly launched Queens Gigabit Center is a part of the Office of Technology and Innovation’s ongoing partnership with LinkNYC to help provide free high-speed Wi-Fi access and digital literacy programming to New Yorkers. Similar Gigabit Centers opened in Manhattan and the Bronx earlier this year, and additional centers are planned for Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Currently, two-in-five New York City households lack either a home broadband connection or mobile broadband through cell service, and 1.8 million households lack both. In Queens alone, 22 percent of households do not have any home broadband connection. The Queens Gigabit Center is part of the City’s broader efforts to bridge the digital divide, including the citywide network of LinkNYC kiosks, which has provided more than 12 million New Yorkers and visitors with free high-speed Wi-Fi since 2016.
Earlier this year, OTI, in partnership with LinkNYC, began deploying 2,000 next-generation Link5G kiosks that provide New Yorkers in more neighborhoods with free high-speed Wi-Fi and even faster, more reliable 5G mobile broadband service. In addition, installing the fiber optic “backbone” infrastructure everywhere LinkNYC kiosks are deployed makes it easier and cheaper for New Yorkers to get high-speed broadband internet access at home.
During today’s event, Hugh O’Kane Electric Company also announced a donation of $5,000 towards the purchase of tablets for seniors at the Allen Senior Center, ensuring their ability to stay connected to senior programs and services. The Center of Hearing and Communication also offered seniors free hearing screenings.
“The opening of the third Gigabit Center in six months showcases the power of investment in digital infrastructure,” said Robert Sokota, president of Link Solutions at ZenFi Networks and president of the Wireless Division at CityBridge. “The underlying fiber network we built to support the Link5G kiosk program was leveraged to reach the Allen Senior Center and expand outdoor public Wi-Fi indoors. More than ever, we need to work with community leaders to leverage shared infrastructure solutions for the greater good. We at ZenFi are thrilled to continue our mission of building connected infrastructure to enable smart communities.”
“In this era full of advances in connectivity and technology, the digital divide is still leaving far too families behind, while worsening inequities across the spectrum of society,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. “Bridging such a divide means connecting all our families to countless economic, educational, and communal opportunities, and I look forward to all the good that the Queens Gigabit Center will do for our borough.”
“Technology is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. But seniors are among the most digitally-disconnected populations, an isolation that was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said New York State Assemblymember Vivian Cook. “The Queens Gigabit center will go a long way in helping close this digital divide and provide thousands of seniors from across Queens with the access, trainings, and services they need. I want to thank our partners at LinkNYC, OTI, the Allen Senior Center, and everyone who made this new community resource a reality.”
“High-speed broadband provides a gateway to information, resources, and connectivity — all crucial to our collective civic life,” said New York State Senator Leroy Comrie. “The Queens Gigabit Center at Allen Senior Center will play an essential role in uplifting tech literacy and assist older adults in taking full advantage of online resources. I welcome this investment and the partnerships forged that will well serve older adults and our shared Queens communities.”
“The Queens Gigabit Center will provide a welcoming environment for our senior community members to explore current technological advances and provide them with access to computers, high-speed internet, and even digital literacy classes,” said New York City Councilmember Nantasha Williams. “Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, this will be a safe space for our community members to create, learn, and share. In a city where millions of New Yorkers have difficulties navigating the technological world, this space has a mission to foster a community where New Yorkers, especially older adults, have easier and cheaper ways to get high-speed broadband access even at home. I am incredibly excited to have this center in the community and look forward to a continued partnership.”
“The Allen Community Senior Citizens Center is excited to be a chosen as a CityBridge Gigabit Center in collaboration with LinkNYC and ZenFi to bring high speed internet services to this senior population in Southeast Queens,” said Donna Atmore-Dolly, executive director, Allen Community Senior Citizens Center. “The COVID pandemic has caused many of our seniors to shift to virtual activities to remain active and social. A special thank you to Hugh O’Kane Electric Company for their generous donation of $5,000 towards the purchase of tablets for our seniors ensuring their ability to stay connected to our senior programs and services.”
“Hugh O’Kane Electric is proud to have partnered with ZenFi since the inception of the LinkNYC project to bring broadband telecommunication services to all areas and neighborhoods in New York City as we continue to help bridge the digital divide,” said Hugh R. O’Kane, president, Hugh O’Kane Electric Co., Inc. “We are especially proud of our involvement in helping build the Queens Gig Center.”
About NYC Office of Technology and Innovation
The Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI) is the leading voice of technology in the City of New York. Technology underpins everything the City does, from policing to benefits screening, and with the combined power of technology expertise across the City, OTI is agile, efficient, and laser-focused on revolutionizing technology and government with an aim at increasing the quality of service for all New Yorkers. We “Get Stuff Done” by streamlining every facet of the City’s technology management into a single cohesive work stream with one common purpose: to enhance the lives of New Yorkers through technology.
LinkNYC is the world’s largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network. Each Link kiosk provides free superfast Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging, access to social services, and displays content such as real-time weather, transit info, public art, and local information. The city-wide network has more than 11 million Wi-Fi users and has connected more than 25 million free phone calls. All of LinkNYC’s services are completely free to users and taxpayers, provided by CityBridge, a partnership led by Intersection and ZenFi Networks. The second generation offering will deploy thousands of new kiosks, called Link5G, enabled with 5G wireless technology across the city. For more information about LinkNYC or to find a Link near you, visit www.link.nyc.
About ZenFi Networks
ZenFi Networks, a BAI Communications company, is an innovative digital infrastructure company focused on delivering wireless siting, network edge colocation and fiber optic network solutions that enable smart communities. ZenFi is a member of the joint venture CityBridge, which deploys and operates LinkNYC, the largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network in the world. As a leading digital infrastructure provider in the tri-state area, ZenFi is responsible for deployment and management of the LinkNYC Wi-Fi and kiosk network.