City of Syracuse Moves Forward With Community Broadband Program

Published on March 29, 2023

Program will help bridge digital divide, providing internet access for low-income residents

Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced the City of Syracuse is moving forward with its Community Broadband Program, an initiative designed to provide affordable, high speed internet for underserved families in Syracuse using federal ARPA funds. The program will serve a minimum of 2,500 households, and establish an enhanced municipal network for the City’s digital services and data-driven applications.

Data from the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) documents a digital divide in Syracuse:  more than 25% of Syracuse households lack any internet access and 1/3 of Syracuse City School District students lack high speed internet at home. The pilot program targets households in census tracts with the lowest rates of internet and broadband access.

“This program will support families without adequate internet access and alleviate digital challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Mayor Walsh. “I thank the Common Council for their unanimous vote to move this program forward, and I am pleased that we are taking direct steps to bridge the digital divide, creating digital opportunity for all.”

The Community Broadband Program is a pilot program funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). A competitive RFP process was completed in the fall of 2022, and Community Broadband Networks was selected to install and operate the City’s fixed wireless network. The contract will span three years and includes includes network design, installation, operations maintenance and managed internet service/customer support. A fact sheet and map on the program is available for review and download. 

Bridging the digital divide is a critical component of the Syracuse Surge, the City’s strategy for inclusive growth in the New Economy. The City has made key investments in digital infrastructure, smart devices that capture and analyze data, data-driven applications and more inclusive access to the internet and digital literacy for residents. In its effort to improve access to the internet for residents, the City established free Wi-Fi service at public buildings such as City Hall and City Hall Commons, and expanded free public Wi-Fi access at five neighborhood-based community center locations.