Internet divide in New York City

- At least three times a week, Brooklyn mom Christina Totten makes her way from East Williamsburg to the Lower East Side to send emails and work on her business proposal.  Totten is in one of an estimated 813-thousand households in New York City without internet access.

"It's hard for me.  No one talks to you on the phone, everyone wants you to email, everyone wants you to upload and scan to them," Totten says.

For many New Yorkers, living without internet means frequent trips to places like the library or a computer lab like the Henry Street Settlement.

The deputy program officer for education and employment at the settlement is Greg Rideout.

"It's not income based, it's not zip code based, literally anyone from the five boros is welcome to come in and sign up for the lab," Rideout says.

The labs are a digital lifeline and also provide critical computer training programs.

"It's a huge valuable resource in terms of computer access and closing that digital divide for the people," Ridout says.

When it comes to bridging that digital divide, there's work to be done.  An audit by City Comptroller Scott Stringer's office found that as of September 2015, more than a quarter of city households lacked broadband internet and 16 percent didn't have a computer.

Neighborhoods int he Bronx and Brooklyn were least likely to have access.

"There's too many people in the city that do not have access to this service and until we close that gap we're not going to be able to have shared prosperity in our city throughut our city and some children are going to be left behind because they don't have the tools they need," Stringer says.

The city is taking steps to get more people connected.  That includes the installation of Link NYC WiFi kiosks.  They can be used to get on the internet, make free domestic phone calls and charge mobile devices.  They are currently being installed in Manhattan and will be extended to the outer boroughs.

But Stringer says that just one step needed to eradicate internet inequality.

"Lets face it, internet capacity is the 4th utility it's needed in order to function in society, so we do see racial disparity, we see borough disparity and it's very critical we develop a citiwide plan so that everybody can be part of the internet society we live in," Stringer says.

By July there are expected to be around 500 of the Wi-Fi stations across the city.  That number is expected to jump to 4,500 in the next four years.

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