Tech firms beg for city-wide broadband upgrade

From left: fiber optic cable, Dana Spiegel
From left: fiber optic cable, Dana Spiegel

Technology firms leasing and buying up New York City office space are begging Mayor Bill de Blasio for better broadband from the telecommunications giants who handle the city’s Internet connections, industry experts say.

There’s no question tech firms have invaded Manhattan, doubling their office space Downtown to 234,000 square feet in 2013 and leasing more space than financial firms in the first quarter of 2012. But a lack of wireline on commercial floors is holding Manhattan back as a tech hub, said Dana Spiegel, the executive director of a public Wi-Fi advocate group NYCwireless, to the Huffington Post.

Spiegel is pushing for New York City to build a fiber network that can provide faster Internet access.

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“Most commercial buildings do not have business cable broadband service,” Spiegel told the Post. “When it is available, this service can have technical issues and is also highly asymmetrical … which is bad for business use.”

Some experts attribute the lack of Internet infrastructure to the failure of utilities to improve the current network. Verizon Communications, the utility that controls the city’s wireline, is way behind schedule in upgrading from aging copper wires to fiber optics, according to the Huffington Post. In 2008, the city signed a contract requiring the company to reach at least three-quarters of New Yorkers by the end of 2012, but Verizon only reached half by the end of 2013, according to data from the New York State Office of Information Technology Services.

“It’s like the elephant in the room in that bandwidth here [in New York City] sucks,” David Pakman, a partner at venture capital firm Venrock, told the Huffington Post.  [Huffington Post] — Angela Hunt