SUMMARY

Access to the Internet is the fourth utility of the modern age—as central to our daily lives as electricity, gas, and water. And yet, for millions of New Yorkers, high-speed internet and the connections it facilitates to education, employment, culture, and commerce, lie beyond their reach.

In 2013, for the fi rst time in its history, the Census Bureau asked questions about computer ownership and Internet access as part of its American Community Survey (ACS). The Offi ce of Comptroller Scott M. Stringer analyzed the data and published, “Internet Inequality,” a report detailing the scope of the digital divide across New York City.

This report provides an update to that effort, using the latest data released this month from the 2014 ACS. The update comes as regulators at the state and federal level are reviewing the proposed merger of Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable to determine whether the merger is in the public interest.

Once again, the data shows that millions of New Yorkers do not have computers and/or broadband at home, and that there are disparities based on age, education level, employment status, race and neighborhood.

More troubling, a comparison of broadband access between 2013 and 2014 suggests that the digital divide is actually widening in certain neighborhoods, even as the City engages in innovative efforts to bring high-speed access to every corner of the fi ve boroughs.

  • 26 percent (813,000) of NYC households lack broadband Internet at home.2
  • 16 percent (510,000) of NYC households do not even have a computer at home.
  • Nearly 350,000 (20 percent) NYC youth (0-18 years) lack broadband at home, while 448,000 (42 percent) of seniors (65+) lack broadband.
  • 40 percent of those with less than a high school education lack broadband at home compared to 11 percent of those with a bachelors or more.
  • 32 percent of people outside the workforce lack broadband at home, while 21 percent of unemployed New Yorkers lack access, and 15 percent of employed New Yorkers.
  • 27 and 25 percent of Hispanic and Black New Yorkers, respectively, lack broadband at home, compared to 19 percent of White households and 14 percent of Asian households.
  • More than one-third (35 percent) of households in the Bronx lack broadband at home, compared to 29 percent in Brooklyn, 22 percent in Queens, 21 percent in Staten Island and Manhattan.
  • The 15th Congressional District (Bronx) had the highest percentage of households without broadband at 40 percent, while the 12th Congressional District (Upper East Side/Queens) has the fewest households without broadband at 15 percent. Offi ce of the New York City Comptroller Internet Inequality: Broadband Access NYC www.comptroller.nyc.gov
  • As shown in the map below, more than 40 percent of households in the South Bronx (Bronx Community Districts 1-6), East Harlem (Manhattan Community District 11), Borough Park (Brooklyn Community District 12), and Brownsville (Brooklyn Community District 16) lack broadband at home.

At the same time, only 10-12 percent of households lack broadband in Park Slope (Brooklyn Community District 6), the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan (Manhattan Community Districts 7 and 8), and Battery Park City/Greenwich Village (Manhattan Community Districts 1 and 2).

Percent of NYC Households with Broadband Access by PUMA; 2014 Source: The New York City Department of City Planning, U.S. Census Bureau Ü Legend Percent of Households with Broadband Access by PUMA Under 60% 60% – 70% 70% – 75% 75% – 80% Over 80%

More troubling still is that the digital divide appears to be growing on a year over year basis, with poor neighborhoods of the South Bronx and Central and Eastern Brooklyn witnessing a decrease in the percentage of households with broadband, as shown in the following map.

In Community Districts 1-6 in the South Bronx—covering neighborhoods such as Hunts Point, Longwood, Belmont, Concourse, Morris Heights, and East Tremont—the percent of households with a broadband connection fell from between 60-68 percent in 2013 to between 58-59 percent in 2014.

In Manhattan’s Lower East Side, the percentage of households with broadband fell from 67 percent in 2013 to 62 percent in 2014.

And in Brownsville (Brooklyn Community Board 16), the percentage of households with broadband fell from 61 percent in 2013 to 55 percent in 2014.