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Google launches major free Wi-Fi network around Chelsea

Free Wi-Fi will be provided by Google to

Free Wi-Fi will be provided by Google to the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea (Credit: Free Wi-Fi will be provided by Google to the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea. (Getty))

Chelsea's new status message: Wired.

The neighborhood is now the first in the city to be completely Wi-Fi enabled, with free Internet access available to more than 7,000 residents and thousands of daily visitors, courtesy of a partnership between Google and the Chelsea Improvement Company.

Tech savvy New Yorkers, naturally, took to social media once word about the free Internet spread.

"That's awesome that Google gave the Chelsea neighborhood free wifi! Definitely bringing my Nexus to read while sitting on the High Line," Franklin Bonilla tweeted.

Administrators for the Chelsea Improvement Company, the local business improvement district, said they have been working with Google, which has offices in the neighborhood, to see if they could use the tech giant's technology to bring the community into the 21st Century.

Google jumped on board, according to Dan Biederman, the Chelsea Improvement Company's president.

"This neighborhood can claim to have totally free and complete Wi-Fi," he said.

The outdoor Wi-Fi area is between Gansevoort and 19th streets and 8th Avenue and the West Side Highway. The area includes public spaces such as the Chelsea Triangle, the 14th Street Park, the High Line and Gansevoort Plaza.

Residents of the Fulton Houses who use the housing project's senior center can use the network. NYCHA residents may be able to get some signal depending on their buildings, but the network isn't guaranteed to work indoors, according to Google.

Sen. Charles Schumer said the system would not only bring better Internet access, but also put the Big Apple on the map for its science and engineering projects. "It will help us stay as one of the leaders of the tech industry," he said.

The city said it would like to offer Wi-Fi in more neighborhoods, including midtown, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others said money is an issue.

The Chelsea network cost $149,000 to install and it will cost $51,000 a month to be maintained. Google pays for two-thirds of the cost, while the Chelsea Improvement Company covers the rest during the network's two-year contract.

"Somebody's going to have to pay for Wi-Fi. The question is who?" Bloomberg said of bringing it to other neighborhoods in the future.

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City-wide Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi hotspots around the city are popping up in more places than ever, as city officials continue to try making New York a tech hub. Here are some of the biggest places you can snag a signal:

Manhattan:
-- Battery Park
-- Central Park (Mineral Springs, Zoo)
-- Tompkins Square Park
-- Thomas Jefferson Park
-- Holcombe Rucker Park

Brooklyn:
-- Brooklyn Bridge Park (piers 1 and 6)
-- Fort Green Park
-- Herbert Von King Park
-- McCarren Park
-- Prospect Park

Bronx:
-- Devoe Park
-- Hunts Points Riverside Park
-- Joyce Kilmer Park

Queens:
-- Astoria Park
-- MacDonald Park
-- Flushing Meadoows Corona Park

Staten Island:
-- Clove Lakes Park
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

(amNY)

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