WiFi comes to New York City parks

By the end of August, wireless networks will be established at 18 locations in 10 of New York City's most prominent parks in a major citywide expansion of free Internet access, the New York Times reported.

Wi-Fi Salon, a small start-up company that won the contract for the work in October 2004, said last week that Nokia 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 — was activated last week, with the other 17 to follow, in stages, through the end of next month.

Beyond the parks, New York City intends to study whether to establish a citywide broadband network similar to those planned by cities such as Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The study, commissioned by the city's Economic Development Corporation, will examine “whether there is a need for a citywide broadband network as a municipal initiative” and what legal, technical, logistical and economic challenges such a project would involve.