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New York City building out free Wi-Fi network in portions of Harlem

updated 06:03 pm EST, Tue December 10, 2013

New network extends 95 city blocks, provides Wi-Fi to underserved populace

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg today announced the launch of a new outdoor public Wi-Fi network in Harlem accessible to all users at no cost. The Harlem Wi-Fi network will extend 95 city blocks, from 110th to 138th streets between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Madison Avenue -- making it the largest continuous free outdoor public wireless network in the nation.

"Our new Harlem wireless network brings critical connectivity to residents and visitors, giving them 24-7 access to everything from education materials for kids, to information about Harlem's rich history and attractions, to everyday needs like paying bills, checking library hours -- or even just keeping tabs on the Knicks and Nets," said Mayor Bloomberg.

The network, which will be rolled out in three phases in coordination with the city's Technology Development Corporation and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, will increase digital access for approximately 80,000 Harlem residents, including 13,000 public housing residents, as well as businesses and visitors in the area.

The free public network will serve the community for an initial five-year term and is funded through a donation from the Fuhrman Family Foundation to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. The first phase, extending from 110th to 120th streets between Madison Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, is underway -- with the remaining phases to be complete by May.

"Increasing wireless connectivity helps to strengthen neighborhoods for those who live, work, and visit and is a key component of the Bloomberg Administration's efforts to ensure digital inclusion," said Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul Merchant. "The Harlem Wi-Fi network extends wireless access to thousands of New Yorkers, enabling convenient free connectivity on-the-go."



By Electronista Staff
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  1. ElectroTech

    Junior Member

    Joined: 11-26-08

    Gotta have somewhere to use those pilfered iDevices that the mayor was saying need to be better protected by Apple. Leave those criminals alone and give them Wifi too.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    You realize you're painting with a ridiculously large brush, right? One might consider your statements as bigoted.

  1. xomniron

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-17-13

    Giving due consideration to the issues of the digital divide and juxtaposing the ways the Haves and the Have-Nots have access to the Internet, I realize that this must be addressed. But I have to ask if the City of New York has the finances to do this? It seems the City is struggling with it's finances at present. Perhaps not the best allocation of resources.

    Beyond that, how do all us schlubs feel now? What are we, chopped liver? We work hard, we pay for our access. How foolish are we, now that others can get it free? The redistribution continues.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    So, we've got the (probably racist) bigot who's decided that anybody who needs to access the internet from Harlem is obviously doing so from a stolen machine, and we've got the guy who thinks that nobody else in the world deserves to get stuff for free because he's used to getting ripped off for it.

    That's the spirit that made America [s]great[/s]what it is today!

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    Agreed, SH. Automatically associating Harlem with stolen goods just shows ElectroTech's ignorance, and reveals he's (pretty obviously) never been there.

    As for the city, the article already states the network was paid for by a private donation from a foundation ... and anyway, a city can negotiate a far cheaper Internet deal than individuals can. Why xomniron thinks he wouldn't have access to the free network if he lived in NYC I'm not quite clear on. Most cities that I travel to in the US and Canada have either downtown city-wide free Wi-Fi already, or blanket coverage if you are either the subscriber to a cable company or a carrier -- in effect, city-wide free Wi-Fi. This is, indeed, a service that cities *should* be offering, right up there with "socialist" public education, fire departments and sewer/water services.

    I'm sorry xomniron apparently lives in the sticks, but that's choice he made -- why other people should suffer because he doesn't live in a city is again unclear. As for the "redistribution" remark -- ho ho, perhaps we've found another racist in our midst! Tell me, do you think FDR's Rural Electrification Act was a "redistribution?" Is city sewage service a "redistribution of wealth?" How about roads -- after all, more get built in cities than in rural areas! What exactly do you mean there, other than implying that you don't understand how governments work or what "socialism" means?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Seen from across the ocean, it looks like exactly the same mentality that dictates that people need to die or at the very least lose their entire life savings and house simply because *he* happens to be rich enough to pay for his own health care — or lucky enough not to have needed to.

    I won't pretend that I'll ever understand it.

    "Society" doesn't work without some degree of "social" behavior.

    I'll just leave that bombshell there.

  1. xomniron

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-17-13

    @chas_m -- your argument is well made. At some point, perhaps cities should be offering free Wi-Fi service in their community infrastructure. Have we reached that point now, along with free computers to those who can't afford them? Where is the personal responsibility? How extensive would the coverage be? How does that affect the private sector ISP businesses that exist to sell their access services?


    Further, yes I live in a somewhat rural area. I've worked hard to be able to have that choice. I was not always able to do that. I put myself through college. I was married and had two small children. I worked two jobs while in college and I've paid back the student loans. I've always done what I needed to do to pay my way in life. I realize there are those who cannot work and that life events have pushed others down and they need help. I have no problem helping those who are trying. I give at least 10% of my income to charity. That is voluntary. Taxes are compulsory. I'll never be "used to getting ripped off," as SH expressed it. Are you? Why? I'm tired of my taxes going to benefit those who are too lazy or refuse to work. I'm tired of the fruits of my hard work being taken to support stupid gov't programs that only create more dependency. How many trillions of taxpayer dollars have gone down the "war on poverty" hole since the Johnson administration? Has it made any difference at all? The funding to build a free Wi-Fi service area in Harlem may have been paid for by a foundation grant, but what about long-term maintenance?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Unless you're a total recluse or independently wealthy, you're probably accessing on a regular basis FAR more infrastructure and (initially) subsidized services than your own tax dollars will ever pay for.

    And even if you don't accept that: somebody paid for your student loans when you couldn't. Yeah, you paid them off. But you're still indebted to society.

    Some kid is going to use that free wifi his family wouldn't otherwise afford to get an education and end up in a career where he gives back to society more than needed to maintain the program.

  1. GopherAlex

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-23-06

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    Unless you're a total recluse or independently wealthy, you're probably accessing on a regular basis FAR more infrastructure and (initially) subsidized services than your own tax dollars will ever pay for.


    For most people this is probably true. Most people want free stuff but no one wants to pay for it.

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    And even if you don't accept that: somebody paid for your student loans when you couldn't. Yeah, you paid them off. But you're still indebted to society.


    It's primarily the easy availability of government-subsidized student loans that has made higher ed so expensive that student loans are needed to afford it.

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    Some kid is going to use that free wifi his family wouldn't otherwise afford to get an education and end up in a career where he gives back to society more than needed to maintain the program.


    More likely, to swap pics of their pilfered iDevices on Facebook.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    You're really digging deeper, ain't you? That brown stuff you're wallowing in ain't chocolate, dude.

    Originally Posted by GopherAlexView Post

    It's primarily the easy availability of government-subsidized student loans that has made higher ed so expensive that student loans are needed to afford it.



    This is, to all appearances, complete bullshit.

    My own college education was almost completely free: there was a brief spell where they tried to charge 500€ per semester, but that was shitcanned as being class discrimination, denying the basic human right of education to those barely able to make ends meet. And I had to pay for books and materials.

    Student loans have been completely normal here for forty years, and they have not resulted in completely absurd costs for the rest of students.

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