updated 08:05 pm EDT, Thu June 9, 2011
Deal last five years, covers five boroughs
Residents of New York City will now be able to enjoy free public Wi-Fi at 26 locations in 20 public parks throughout the New York City area, from Staten Island to the Bronx. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson have announced a five-year deal that is free for both AT&T customers and non-customers, which the telecommunications giant is providing at no cost to the city.
Most AT&T smartphones and other internet-ready devices will automatically connect and switch from the mobile network, while others will simply need to select the "attwifi" network, open their browser and click to connect. The free Wi-Fi is available starting today at Battery Bosque in Battery Park, the north-end playground in Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx, and at the recreation center at Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem. The other 23 hotspots will become active as the summer progresses.
Other locations will include Devoe Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, various locations around Central Park, Astoria Park, and Clove Lake Park and South Beach in Staten Island. Hotspots will also be available in Fort Greene Park, Herbert Von King Park, McCarren Park and Prospect Park in Brooklyn; the High Line, Holcombe Rucker Park, Marcus Garvey Park and Tompkins Square Park in Manhattan, and Flushing Meadows Corona Park and MacDonald Park in Queens.
The deal came as part of a comprehensive strategy for New York City to become the nation's leading "digital city," and benefits both the city's on-the-go population and parks department as well as giving AT&T more coverage in New York City, where the preponderance of dropped calls and other connection issues garnered much animosity towards the company, particularly by iPhone owners, and gave rival Verizon ammunition for a PR campaign when it began carrying its version of the iPhone 4.
The city expects the benefit to further drive traffic to the city's many parks and recreation areas, particularly in lower-income areas. Other carriers, such as Verizon, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable, have also made offers to provide free Wi-Fi hotspots in areas throughout the metropolitan region, though many of those plans limit the time of the connection, or charge a fee after a certain number of uses.
AT&T also offers other hotspots and hotzones around the city, including Times Square, Rockefeller Center, near St. Patrick's Cathedral, along Park Avenue and near the Ed Sullivan Theater. Maps of all the AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots in New York City and elsewhere are available from the company's website.
Photo credit: Georgio/MUNI Wireless