We first reported that Google was aiming to provide free public wifi Internet access to the world over seven years ago, and they kicked off that goal by offering free wi-fi to Mountain View, and now they’ve announced that the area of Chelsea in New York City is the latest recipient of free Google wifi as they do their part to grow Manhattan’s Silicon Alley.
On Tuesday Google announced that it has already begun offering free public WiFi in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. It will be the largest wifi network in New York City and is a collaboration between Google, city officials, and a New York-based nonprofit development organization. Google said that the area covered by the wifi is approximately “between Gansevoort St. and 19 St. from 8th Ave to the West Side Highway, as well as the neighborhood’s public spaces, including the Chelsea Triangle, 14th Street Park, and Gansevoort Plaza.”
In a statement, Google’s chief information officer Ben Fried said, “Google is proud to provide free WiFi in the neighborhood we have called home for over six years. This network will not only be a resource for the 2,000+ residents of the Fulton Houses, it will also serve the 5,000+ student population of Chelsea as well as the hundreds of workers, retail customers and tourists who visit our neighborhood every day.”
“New York is 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,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. “Thanks to Google, free WiFi across this part of Chelsea takes us another step closer to that goal.” At a press conference, Bloomberg said that he’d ultimately like to see similar WiFi service throughout the city.
It is no coincidence that Google’s announcement was released the same day as the book “Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Guilded Age” by technology scholar, and member of Mayor Bloomberg’s Council on Technology and Innovation, Susan Crawford. Crawford contends that Americans have far fewer Internet service choices than other countries because American policy makers have paved the way for a small number of large corporations that are monopolizing the broadband market, and becoming filthy rich in the process.
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New York is quickly becoming a big technology hub as Internet and new media companies set up shop in Manhattan, which was originally dubbed Silicon Alley, although the term is now used to refer to the technology industry in New York City as a whole. New York officials have praised this move as yet another step in securing New York’s place amongst the likes of Silicon Valley. So it seems to be a win-win situation for Google and New York’s dot com industry, and a huge win for the residents of Chelsea.
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