As of today, New Yorkers who live in an area of Chelsea bounded by Gansevoort Street, the West Side Highway, 19th Street, and 8th Avenue have free wi-fi, thanks to Google. No password is needed to access what’s now the largest public outdoor network in the city. The two-year pilot program will be funded by Google and the Chelsea Improvement Company, and will have no ads except for one labeling Google as the provider. The area defined hosts many tech startups and has earned the nickname of Silicon Alley.
What’s the Big Idea?
It’s the company’s latest attempt to establish itself as a service provider, following last year’s introduction of its superfast fiber network to Kansas City. At a press conference, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the city has lofty technological goals: “[We are] determined to become the world’s leading digital city, and universal access to high-speed Internet is one of the core building blocks of that vision.” Currently, wi-fi service in the city is less than ideal, partially due to thick walls in older buildings that prevent signal penetration.