“Big Apple Connect” program bringing free internet to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers

NEW YORK – Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will soon get more access to the internet. 

Mayor Eric Adams announced the launch of a new program that will provide free Wi-Fi to certain NYCHA residents. 

As CBS2’s Nick Caloway reports, Daniel Fields has lived in the Langston Hughes Houses for 30+ years. 

“The service is excellent,” he said. 

He’s had internet plans before, but he’s a single dad, and money is tight. 

“And what happened was the price was a little too high. So what happened? I’d have it, I’d lose it,” he said. 

Now he’s connected, free of charge. 

“It’s a major help-out for us financially-wise, because I really couldn’t afford it,” he said. 

Fields is benefiting from the new “Big Apple Connect” program, officially launched by Adams Monday, after a successful pilot program. It provides free high-speed internet and basic cable TV to about 300,000 residents living in more than 200 NYCHA developments. 

“Something as simple as providing free, accessible Wi-Fi can change the life of a New Yorker. And Big Apple Connect is connecting New York City to the future,” Adams said. 

The mayor said access to the internet is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. 

Matthew Fraser, the city’s chief technology officer, said kids who did not have access to the internet suffered learning loss during the pandemic. 

“It’s more than just broadband. It’s broadband, it’s economic development, it’s healthcare, it’s education. And it’s giving people access to a critical resource like water,” Fraser said. 

The program will serve families across all five boroughs. Ciprian Noel has four kids who depend on the internet for school and play. Now they have reliable access. 

“My kids, they come home, they do their homework. They go straight to the internet to do their homework with no problem. They get their homework done, and after that, they go and play some of the Xbox,” Noel said. 

All this free Wi-Fi doesn’t come cheap. The city will pay a little north of $30 million a year for the service.  

City officials say the funding for that program came from another program which has recently been canceled. 

Nick Caloway contributed to this report. 

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