Originally published: June 2, 2011
Last updated: June 2, 2011 - 3:53pm
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg frequently proclaims New York as an ideal city to start a technology company, but until now not a single neighborhood offered free wireless access to the Internet. A narrow strip of that void will officially be filled on June 2 when the wraps come off Dumbo Wi-Fi, a network designed to be available outdoors between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. That the network, financed by a developer, is the only one of its kind in New York illustrates how far the city is from becoming truly connected. So far, it has had a patchwork of wireless hot spots in parks and other public spaces, almost all of them arranged by business-improvement districts and sponsored by corporations. At the end of June, one company, Towerstream, plans to introduce what it claims will be “the most robust and fastest portable Wi-Fi network” in Manhattan, though it will not technically be free: it hopes to sell access to cellphone service providers, who could then offer it to their customers. Wi-Fi generally provides a faster and stronger signal than cellphone networks.
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