Ten-thousand New York City residents can now access the Internet without fuss.
In an unprecedented move, the New York Public Library (NYPL) has given out 10,000 high-speed, state-of-the-art hot spots to some of the city’s least fortunate residents. Working alongside Mobile Beacon, a Rhode Island-based, nonprofit national provider of low-cost Internet services and telecommunications company Sprint, the NYPL seeks to expand coverage to thousands of New Yorkers who lack basic Internet access.
Under the program, residents who do not have their own broadband service and are registered in library educational programs qualify for the hot spots. THE NYPL are also recruiting the elderly and disabled for the program. The hot spots, each valued at approximately $1,000, are available on loan for as long as a year.
Why hot spots? According to various studies, more than a third of New Yorkers — three out of eight million people — lack access to broadband. Dr. Anthony Marx, president of the NYPL, views this as unacceptable.
“It is simply unfathomable that in the digital world in which we live, one-third of New Yorkers do not have access to broadband Internet at home.” Marx said. “[It puts] them at a serious disadvantage at school, in applying for jobs, and so much more.”
Though the NYPL is lending out these hot spots, it should be noted that those who would qualify to borrow them might not necessarily have a computer. So far, Google has reached out to the program participants, providing 500 free laptops as well as $1 million in funding. Another million has been raised in private grants that will fund the program as well as the participating New York schools administering it.
Many residents have already reaped the benefits of this free, high-speed Internet access.
“Our nine-year-old son won first-place at a science fair after learning how to make compost from the Internet,” said Evelyn Acosta, supervisor of a home for the developmentally disabled and the sole provider for her family (her husband is currently on disability).
“Computers are awesome,” said 10-year-old Carlos Apreza of Staten Island. Carols received the hot spot and a computer last during a small trial run, and says that as a result, his grades have improved by as much as 30%. His father, a dishwasher and sole provider for his family, only makes about $13,000 a year.
“We can buy food and some clothes,” Carlos added, “but we don’t have enough money for technology.”
New hot spots will most likely increase the use of search engines such as Google and Bing. There are already 100 billion search engine inquiries made every month around the world.