A law requiring free internet for every apartment in New York City? If some city officials have their way, it will be a reality sooner rather than later. Councilman Ben Kallos proposed a new bill on Thursday that would require landlords who own buildings with ten or more units to provide tenants with Internet or “its functional equivalent,” as stated in the proposal. “Such homes would be subject to additional technical requirements,” the bill says, “including the installation of Ethernet ports and cabling to facilitate Internet access. Violations would be punished under the Home Maintenance Code ”.
The Patch news site reported that Kallos wanted the bill passed to help disadvantaged New Yorkers; there are around 500,000 of them who do not have access to the Internet. Living without it means that applying for food benefits, working remotely, and even booking appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine is challenging, to say the least.
The Internet, Kallos believes, should be a utility in the same way that electricity, heat, hot water and telephone service are. Homeowners who can’t afford it can apply for help, though he says they’re considering an investment starting at $ 14.95 a month to buy internet in bulk.
The digital divide between New Yorkers and the need for the Internet became apparent during the pandemic. With remote work and education as a way of life and Zoom as a mainstay, New Yorkers who had to live without it faced hurdle after hurdle: Students couldn’t keep up with school, and employees couldn’t do their jobs. Kallos’ proposal is the first of its kind, according to Shaun Pappas, a real estate attorney at Starr Associates in New York.