Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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City To Expand Free Wi-Fi Coverage

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Areas in all five boroughs will soon have free outdoor Wi-Fi thanks to a private-public partnership announced Monday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of two new initiatives designed to expand Internet access and make the city more tech-friendly. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Free wireless access is already a reality in many city parks and a large swath of Chelsea, where the network was mostly paid for by Google. But now, the city is launching a major expansion of free Wi-Fi in 10 business corridors across all five boroughs.

"It's going to mean that the information and power of the web will be available in public spaces near something like 2,200 business and to over 180,000 residents and more than 320,000 daily pedestrians," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg made the announcement Monday in downtown Brooklyn. The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is one of five groups putting a combined $3.4 million toward the initiative, to go along with $900,000 in public dollars.

The result is that starting in December, free Wi-Fi will be available in lower Manhattan along the Water Street corridor, the Flatiron district along 23rd Street, 125th Street in Harlem, much of Roosevelt Island and downtown Brooklyn, the Fulton Street corridor in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, the Long Island City section of Queens, East Fordham Road in the Bronx and the St. George commercial district of Staten Island.

"These are areas in which they have a good mix of retail, commercial and residential use," said Kyle Kimball, president of the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Also on Monday, the city announced the launch of WiredNYC, a new grading system for commercial office buildings, where buildings will be ranked platinum, gold, silver or connected based on their broadband connectivity, giving businesses more information in choosing where to locate.

"What LEED certification did for a building's environmental friendliness, WiredNYC will do for a building's connectivity," said Jared Kushner, CEO of Kushner Companies.

Ten of the city's biggest real estate owners are on board. Ratings for 150 buildings are already searchable at wiredscore.com.

"This is what people want and companies need," Bloomberg said. "And I don't think that it's viable to have a good-size office building in this day and age without high-speed communications."

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