Good news for New Yorkers who can't stand to be disconnected -- there's more free Wi-Fi on the way.
Neighborhoods that have seen booms in tech-related jobs such as Downtown Brooklyn -- will be part of a pilot program to encourage developers and communities to enhance their broadband capabilities, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Our work is to ensure more New Yorkers have the power of the Web no matter where they live or work," the mayor said yesterday as he announced the plan.
The neighborhoods that will have access in certain areas include Downtown Brooklyn, the Financial District, Long Island City in Queens, Brownsville in Brooklyn and Harlem. All have seen growth in the tech sector.
Bloomberg said the free Wi-Fi, which will go online in December, is crucial to the industry's exponential growth and that more needs to be done.
Dana Spiegel, the executive director of NYCwireless, a nonprofit that advocates and supports initiatives for free public Wi-Fi, said the mayor's concern is real because only 5 percent of the city has open public Wi-Fi, which pales in comparison to other cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco. Spiegel noted that Wi-Fi has become a necessity, rather than just being for people who want to stream Netflix on a subway platform.
"A lot of city workers aren't at their desks. Inspectors and city workers need the Internet access to upload reports and look at data. Even office workers who need to make sales calls, so a strong, wireless infrastructure is a must," he said.
Spiegel said a public-private partnership is the most efficient way to make the city more wired and commended the city's program. Under the Economic Development Corporation plan, three Business Improvement Districts -- the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the Flatiron 23rd St. Partnership and Downtown Alliance -- as well as the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Wi-Fi provider GOWEX, received a total of $900,000 to set up and operate the services for three years.
"The city's visionary commitment to expanding access to wireless and broadband in commercial districts not only helps to support the growth of the innovation economy," Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Tucker Reed, who has been pushing for more tech companies in his neighborhood, said in a statement.