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