Bringing broadband to Governors Island in NYC

‘Moonshot challenge’ has three finalists showcasing innovative broadband solutions in greenfield environment

Off the tip of Manhattan sits Governors Island, a 170-acre island that’s home to nationally-protected historic buildings, open park space and former military installations. Beloved by New Yorkers, Governors Island has been the subject of long-term redevelopment with an eye on maximizing public benefit of the land. As part of that project, the NYC’s Governors Island Connectivity Challenge is designed to provide high-quality, reliable broadband access to visitors and workers.

Think of the small space as a test bed of sorts. The Connectivity Challenge, announced last year by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is a call-to-arms for companies that think they can further the mission of making sure every resident and business in New York City has affordable, high-speed broadband by 2025.

Earlier this year the nonprofit Trust for Governors Island, working with other stakeholders, selected three Connectivity Challenge finalists; the companies will get $25,000 and an opportunity to build and test network equipment on the island, and potentially deploy at scale on Governors Island and other park-type properties in the five boroughs.

The finalists are Neutral Connect Networks (NCN), Fiberless Networks and Edge Fibernet. Neutral Connect CEO Paul McGinn said he looks forward to displaying “a cutting edge, self-contained network on Governors Island that will be a showcase of what a world-class, greenfield, wireless build can be in 2018. NCN is a neutral host operator and other network infrastructure-related services to transportation, sporting venue, retail enterprise and public customers.

The city’s Chief Technology Officer Miguel Gamiño, Jr., described the project as a “moonshot challenge.” He said the Governors Island initiative “is helping us engage the right experts to accelerate connectivity, establish fair opportunity for everyone to participate in today’s world, and make tech work for people.” Local Council Member Margaret Chin hit on the need for what she termed “internet equity. This moonshot challenge is helping us engage the right experts to accelerate connectivity, establish fair opportunity for everyone to participate in today’s world and make tech work for people.”

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