CBS launches free Wi-Fi service in Manhattan

CBS has launched the CBS Mobile Zone, a free 36-block Wi-Fi area in Midtown Manhattan that will be accessible by anyone equipped with a wireless computing device.

Coverage of the CBS hotspot will ultimately range vertically from the south end of Central Park to West 42nd Street, some of Times Square as well as a significant area between 6th Avenue and 8th Avenue.

The project, in collaboration with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York City Transit, is ad supported. Citi and have already signed on as sponsors.

Upon logging on, Web surfers will come to a home page with “hyperlocal content such as breaking local and national news, sports highlights, weather reports, music discovery, wallpapers, ring tones, maps, a social network, and the ability to search for nearby restaurants, shops and entertainment complete with geographically-targeted community reviews,” CBS said in the announcement.

This Wi-Fi network is considered a test project that should last for at least six months. Some areas are live effective immediately and will be joined by the rest of the network by the end of November. Local businesses are also being encouraged to add wireless routers to their buildings to help avoid dark spots inside the area, according to the broadcaster.

The Mobile Zone is not device- or software-specific and will allow cell phones, notebooks, and other hardware to connect as long as they include a Web browser. VoIP calling and other comparatively high-demand Internet activities will also be acceptable. If successful, the trial may also expand to include other areas where CBS’ outdoor division has a presence.