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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Wi fi for the parks

After Delays, Wireless Web Comes to Parks

Published: July 6, 2006

By the end of August, wireless networks will be established at 18 locations in 10 of New York City's most prominent parks — including Central, Prospect and Riverside Parks — in a major citywide expansion of free Internet access, according to city officials.

The development, to be announced today, would end months of delay for a city project that has faced considerable logistical and technical hurdles since it was announced in June 2003. Wi-Fi Salon, a small start-up company that won the contract for the work in October 2004, said yesterday that Nokia, a Finnish manufacturer of telecommunications devices, had signed on as a sponsor, giving it a well-financed partner that could finally turn the plan into reality.

Wi-Fi Salon intends to activate 18 wireless "hot spots" by the end of next month at Battery, Central and Riverside Parks and in Washington and Union Squares in Manhattan; at Prospect Park in Brooklyn; at the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens; and at Pelham Bay and Van Cortlandt Parks and Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

Eight of the hot spots will be in Central Park and two in Prospect Park. The first of the 18 locations — a stretch of Battery Park, from the Battery Gardens restaurant to the Castle Clinton National Monument — is to be activated today, with the other 17 to follow, in stages, through the end of next month.

At those locations, users with laptops configured for wireless networking will be able to check e-mail, browse the Internet and download files while sitting on a park bench or sipping a coffee at a concession stand, all at no cost.

"The expanded Wi-Fi network will give park visitors even more options to enjoy," Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, said in a statement. "Park patrons can throw a pitch, score a goal, catch a wave or surf the Internet at some of our city's greatest parks."

Park advocates said they were delighted to hear that the parks department and Wi-Fi Salon were getting the project moving. "We're glad that they seem to have gotten their ducks in a row," said Christian DiPalermo, executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, an advocacy group that is not involved in the project. "It's long overdue and long awaited by park users."

Four years ago, the Bryant Park Restoration Corporation created a Wi-Fi hot spot encompassing the six-acre park in Midtown. It has been a huge success, with use of the network rising each summer since the service began in June 2002. About 250 people now use the network each day during the peak summer months.

posted by Steve @ 3:13:00 AM

3:13:00 AM

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