Main | Wednesday, September 15, 2010

(Sort Of) Free Wifi For NYC Parks

New York City's parks are getting free wifi. Sort of.
Cable giants Time Warner and Cablevision have agreed to spend $10 million to provide WiFi service in 32 parks as part of a deal in which the city agreed to give a 10-year renewal of the companies' lucrative cable-television franchises. Under that deal, which city officials announced Tuesday after two years of stalled cable talks, anyone can have free WiFi in the parks for up to three 10-minute sessions a month - a total of 30 minutes per person. After that, the cable companies will charge you 99 cents a day to surf the Internet.
A buck a day doesn't seem bad, but park advocates are fuming, saying this is just another Bloomberg ploy to hand over public spaces to corporations.
"There should be totally free wireless in the parks," said City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan). As head of the Council's Technology in Government Committee, Brewer has made the fight for free WiFi one of her signature issues. "This sounds like a joke," she said when told of the deal. "I don't understand how this works logistically. How will they track people's use and charge everyone?" "It's pure bait-and-switch," said Dana Spiegel, head of NYCwireless, a nonprofit group that has helped set up free WiFi at Bryant, Madison Square and a half-dozen other public parks.
(Tipped by JMG reader Reid)

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