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City of Syracuse seeks proposals for community broadband program

The Syracuse Economic Development Corporation (SEDCO) has awarded 39 Syracuse small businesses and organizations $350,000 in COVID-19 relief grants. Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh says the money comes from the federal CARES Act. (Photo credit:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The City of Syracuse is requesting proposals for a pilot program for the design, implementation, and maintenance of a municipally shared telecommunications network.

The program will serve households that don’t have access to high-speed internet and establish an “enhanced” municipal network for the city’s digital services and data-driven applications, the office of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh announced Tuesday.

Walsh’s office cited data from the 2019 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) that it believes indicates a “digital divide” in Syracuse.


More than 25 percent of Syracuse households lack any internet access and nearly 45 percent don’t have access to the broadband-level speeds needed to support multiple users.

The pilot program is intended to target households in census tracts with the lowest rates of internet and broadband access.

“In the digital age, access to affordable and reliable internet service is essential to our daily lives,” Walsh said. “The challenges families without adequate internet access face have been exacerbated by COVID-19, from adjustments to working from home and applying for jobs, to ensuring children have access to learning platforms, to maintaining our social connections, the need for dependable internet is more prevalent than ever. I am pleased that we are moving towards a more connected Syracuse community with this request for proposals.”

The city’s purchase division will provide more information about the community broadband pilot program and scope of work “upon request.” Interested vendors should contact Stacy Jennis at to receive a copy of the request for proposals.

Those interested should submit proposals by Oct. 11, Walsh’s office said.

City’s digital efforts

“Bridging the digital divide is a critical component” of the Syracuse Surge, the city’s strategy for “inclusive growth in the New Economy.” Syracuse says it 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, per Walsh’s office.

In its effort to provide sources of internet to residents, Syracuse says it has established free Wi-Fi service at public buildings such as City Hall and City Hall Commons. It also expanded free public Wi-Fi access at five neighborhood-based, community-center locations.

In addition to those investments in broadband, Syracuse Common Council recently authorized $430,835 in American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funds to support the “digital-empowerment program.”

The program will improve digital literacy and provide support in accessing affordable high-speed internet services and devices to City residents, Walsh’s office contends. Administered by the Syracuse Neighborhood Community Center Collaborative, the funds will help pay to hire a digital-empowerment program manager and four “digital navigators.”

Those positions will work directly with residents to better access digital and online services like applying for jobs and public benefits, accessing social services, and staying connected to their family and friends.





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