Thinking Tech

Google sponsors a summer of free Wi-Fi in NYC

Google sponsors a summer of free Wi-Fi in NYC

Posting in Cities

Free Wi-Fi is on the rise, but what will floods of new customers do to the quality of service?

If you don't want to pay up for that mobile data plan, then free Wi-Fi hotspots may be your next best bet. Luckily for Manhattan dwellers, Boingo is offering a host of new free Wi-Fi zones thanks to a sponsorship deal with Google Offers. Much like Google's sponsorship of free Wi-Fi access at select airports back in 2009, the New York City deal lets anyone log on at Boingo hotzones and connect to a wireless network at no charge. Boingo is also partnering with Transit Wireless to extend that sponsorship to six subway stations across the city.

Free Wi-Fi is becoming an increasingly popular perk from broadband providers, at coffee shops and in many public spaces. But while it's valuable to users, and a potentially brilliant marketing tactic, the downsides to free Wi-Fi are growing. The more companies and wireless carriers create incentives for consumers to use Wi-Fi hotspots, the more there are going to be traffic congestion problems, and quality-of-service issues.

Amtrak, for example, offers free Wi-Fi access in many of its locations. But if you've ever had to rely on train Wi-Fi, you know the service is pretty abysmal, at least down at track level.

Meanwhile, the extension to New York subway stations comes after a long delay in the Big Apple's wireless transit plans. As Karl Bode over at DSLReports points out, Transit Wireless won a deal back in 2007 to bring Wi-Fi to all 277 subway stations in New York City. But the company only expects to have 36 stations outfitted with Wi-Fi  by the end of this year.

As for this summer's sponsored Wi-Fi access, New Yorkers can log on for free between now and September 7, 2012. In addition to Boingo hotzones throughout the city, the free Wi-Fi will be available at these subway station locations:

  • A, C, E station at Eighth Avenue and West 14th Street
  • L station at Eighth Avenue and West 14th Street
  • C, E station at Eighth Avenue and West 23rd Street
  • 1, 2, 3 station at Seventh Avenue and West 14th Street
  • F, M station at Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street
  • L station at Sixth Avenue and West 14th Street

Image courtesy of the Metro Transit Authority with logo from from Transit Wireless

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Mari Silbey

Contributing Editor

Mari Silbey is an independent tech writer based in Washington, D.C. With a background in cable and telecom, she's a contributor to several trade publications, and part of the GigaOM analyst network. She also writes for the long-running digital media blog Zatz Not Funny, and has written for both corporate and association clients focused on broadband networks, mobile apps, and video delivery. She's a graduate of Duke University. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure