- January 8, 2013 12:29pm EST
Southwest Chelsea just got a little hipper with the addition of free outdoor Wi-Fi courtesy of your friendly neighborhood search giant.
Google on Tuesday lifted the curtain on the new neighborhood-wide wireless network that makes free Wi-Fi available from Gansevoort Street to 19th Street, between Eighth Avenue and the West Side Highway (including the Chelsea Triangle, 14th Street Park, and Gansevoort Plaza). The network is the largest contiguous wireless grid in New York City, according to the company.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were joined Tuesday morning by Google’s chief information officer Ben Fried at the Fulton Senior Center to announce the new service, which Bloomberg called “another step forward in ground-breaking fashion.”
Google’s New York headquarters, which house more than 3,000 employees in its second-largest global office, has stood at 111 Eighth Avenue since 2006. The company purchased the building —Manhattan’s fourth largest office building—in late 2010 for a rumored $1.9 billion. From that location, the Web behemoth is now providing free Internet access to its neighbors, including the more than 2,000 residents of the Fulton Houses, the 5,000-plus student population in Chelsea, and “the hundreds of workers, retail customers, and tourists who visit our neighborhood every day,” Fried said.
Schumer demonstrated the functionality of the new service during the press conference, accessing his talking points on his iPad via the new Chelsea Wi-Fi network.
“It’s great. It’s high-tech, it’s high-speed, it’s high job growth, and it’s free,” the senator said.
New York City already provides free Web access in 20 parks around its five boroughs, thanks to AT&T; another 32 are set to be connected by September, according to Bloomberg.
“This cutting edge wireless network will help to cement New York’s reputation as a leader in technological development, will help the city continue to attract business and grow our booming Silicon Alley, and will take us one step closer to our goal of becoming the most well-connected city in America,” Schumer said in a statement.
Bloomberg has been promoting New York’s tech startup scene for several months. Last October, he led a tour of the city’s tech corridor and touted New York City as a hub of innovation during a speech in front of Boxee’s Manhattan headquarters.
On Tuesday, the senator and the mayor discussed the possibility of a city-wide outdoor wireless network, which Bloomberg said could be paid for with federal funds and which Schumer characterized as requiring “a smidgen of what [Hurricane] Sandy is costing us” to fund.
“I look forward to seeing a day not too far away when the whole city of New York has free Wi-Fi and you can walk in the streets of Brooklyn and Queens and the Bronx and Staten Island and every part of Manhattan and just plug into the Internet, walk on the streets, do your work, don’t bump into anybody else, and know that it doesn’t cost you a nickel,” Schumer said.
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