High-speed, low-cost internet service ($20/mo.) coming to affordable housing units in Newark, thanks to Andrena

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and officials from the Newark Housing Authority, Newark Fiber and internet service provider Andrena announced Thursday a partnership to provide affordable high-speed internet connectivity to more than 1,600 units in 14 NHA buildings.

The collaboration has so far connected 150 individual residences that have adopted the new, affordable Andrena option, which costs just $20 a month — compared with an average rate of $75 a month. This will save Newark residents as much as $700 a year.

Even more, the hookups have created job opportunities for local residents.

To advance the project quickly, Andrena joined with local telecom companies, including Black-owned and Newark-based Teknogrid, that trained and hired city residents for cable installation.

“The launch of Connect Newark: Andrena — a Newark Fiber Collaboration, will be a game-changer for thousands of people living in our city,” Baraka said. “High-speed internet will enable Newarkers to take well-paid jobs from home, plus access online education and telehealth appointments. In today’s digital age, it is vital that we afford equal opportunities for Newark residents to thrive.”

Since the first building installation earlier this year, more than 150 units have adopted Andrena’s new service — and many more are expected to follow. The service will allow residents to connect to the web for research, shopping, video calls, streaming services, online banking and more. Residents will also have access to free Wi-Fi in common areas within and around the public housing buildings.

“We are honored to have been selected by Newark Fiber to deliver low-cost internet service to the city, making connectivity more accessible, affordable and usable than ever before,” Andrena co-founder Neil Chatterjee said.

Newly connected affordable housing developments are located across Newark’s five wards: 963 and 991 Frelinghuysen Ave.; 100 and 122 Ludlow St.; 801, 789 and 815 N. 6th St.; 880, 900 and 920 Franklin Ave.; 31 and 35 Van Vechten St.; 516 Bergen St.; and 214 South St.

“Our goal is to offer connectivity options to Newark residents that previously could only access or afford the internet at home through their phone’s data plan, if at all,” said Aaron Meyerson, chief innovation economy officer and director of broadband at Invest Newark and Newark Alliance. “We’ve also identified ways for Newark residents to learn job skills. This was made possible by Newark’s unique municipal fiber network, Newark Fiber, which provides the internet for Andrena to serve residential customers. This full alignment of real estate, connectivity, workforce training and affordable internet is how the city of Newark is leading the way forward.”

Newark has a digital divide caused by the lack of access and adoption of broadband. According to 2022 U.S. Census numbers, nearly 1 in 5 Newark households does not have an internet subscription at home. Additionally, 9% of Newark families lack a computer. Collaborating with partners, the city aims to provide sustainable, high-speed options to residents.

Andrena worked with local telecom companies, including TeknoGRID, and Brooklyn-based BlocPower, to train local residents to install the service.

“On-the-job training is a critical skill-building component of our program, which can only happen if we’re hired for telecom projects,” said Marland Jenkins, founder and CEO of TeknoGRID. “We are grateful to companies like Andrena who provide these types of opportunities for our trainees.”