Thursday, September 16, 2010

Parks WIFI Deal A "Joke"

The WiFi provision is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the nation for a cable franchise
Cable Giants Get Big Payoff For 'Free' Service. Under a new agreement with the city Time Warner and Cablevision will provide Wifi to 32 city parks but free access will be limited to 30 minutes per user per month.

City -Wide

Free WiFi is finally coming to city parks next year.

Well, not exactly.

Cable giants Time Warner and Cablevision have agreed to spend $10 million to provide WiFi service in 32 parks as part of a deal in which the city agreed to give a 10-year renewal of the companies' lucrative cable-television franchises, according to the New York Daily News.

Under that deal, which city officials announced Tuesday after two years of stalled cable talks, anyone can have free WiFi in the parks for up to three 10-minute sessions a month - a total of 30 minutes per person.

After that, the cable companies will charge you 99 cents a day to surf the Internet.

Broadband advocates immediately blasted the deal as a Bloomberg administration giveaway of public spaces to private companies.

"There should be totally free wireless in the parks," said City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan). As head of the Council's Technology in Government Committee, Brewer has made the fight for free WiFi one of her signature issues.

"This sounds like a joke," she said when told of the deal. "I don't understand how this works logistically. How will they track people's use and charge everyone?"

"It's pure bait-and-switch," said Dana Spiegel, head of NYCwireless, a nonprofit group that has helped set up free WiFi at Bryant, Madison Square and a half-dozen other public parks.

"The way people use WiFi in public spaces is not to hop on and hop off after a few minutes," Spiegel said. "Real people use it for a half hour or hours at a time, and that means the cable companies will end up charging them."

Read More: 

City parks to get free Wifi, but limited to 30 minutes per user per month
New York Daily News - September 14th 2010 -  Juan Gonzalez

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