AT&T making tourists even more annoying with free Times Square WiFi

AT&T's master plan to relieve 3G data congestion in New York City? Give the crush of upward-facing tourists in Times Square free WiFi. AT&T will announce its first ever free outdoor WiFi hotspot later today located at the north central part of Times Square, near 7th Avenue between 45th and 47th Street. Qualifying AT&T customers with smartphones like the iPhone will automatically switch from 3G data to WiFi when in range. Great, just what Times Square needs: smartphone wielding pedestrians enticed by fast data to be even more oblivious to the pace of busy New Yorkers. If successful, AT&T will add WiFi hotspots to other high-traffic areas... and hopefully help push through tourist-lane legislation that could solve NYC's real congestion problems.

[Photo courtesy of MarkArms]

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AT&T Launches Pilot Wi-Fi Project in Times Square

New Wi-Fi Hotzone Prototype to Help New Yorkers and Visitors Stay Connected in "America's Crossroads," One of the Busiest Locations in the World
New York, New York, May 25, 2010

AT&T* today announced the launch of an AT&T Wi-Fi "hotzone" in New York City's bustling Times Square, providing coverage for many AT&T customers visiting and residing in New York who use Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, laptops, netbooks and other devices. The new Wi-Fi coverage zone is a pilot deployment to explore the use of Wi-Fi to provide an additional mobile broadband option in areas with consistently high 3G traffic and mobile data use.

AT&T has installed Wi-Fi service in the north central part of Times Square, near 7th Avenue between 45th and 47th Street, to provide a large outdoor hotspot zone that AT&T users can access using any Wi-Fi enabled device. The AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone at Times Square is available at no additional charge for nearly 32 million AT&T customers with qualifying smartphone, 3G LaptopConnect and AT&T High Speed Internet plans.

AT&T is using wireless technologies to mobilize everything that's important to customers - their favorite content, apps, entertainment and social networks. AT&T today delivers the nation's fastest 3G wireless network as well as the nation's largest Wi-Fi network, giving customers the best combination of speed and coverage.

"Whether they're emailing photos and videos to friends back home, downloading a restaurant review, or ordering discount Broadway tickets online, people in Times Square want the mobile broadband connection that lets them get the most done in the least amount of time," said John Donovan, AT&T chief technology officer. "With this pilot AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone, we're examining new ways to combine our Wi-Fi and 3G networks to help ensure that AT&T customers in Times Square always have a fast mobile broadband connection to do what matters most to them. It's another example of how AT&T is exploring the ideal blend of technologies to maximize the mobile experience for our customers in New York City."

While managing nationwide mobile data traffic growth of 5,000 percent over the past three years, AT&T has made significant investments and driven a number of new innovations to deliver the best possible customer experience. Examples of these innovations include AT&T 3G MicroCell devices to expand in-home coverage; Distributed Antenna System networks to extend 3G coverage in stadiums, convention halls and other areas where people congregate; and temporary network enhancements to support one-time events and emergency situations.

Based on the results from the pilot location, AT&T may deploy additional hotzones in other areas across the country where more ubiquitous Wi-Fi availability may be beneficial for customers.

The popularity of Wi-Fi service - particularly on mobile phones - has grown tremendously. In the first quarter, AT&T handled 53.1 million Wi-Fi connections on its network, which is nearly five times higher than the same quarter last year.

Many of the most popular AT&T smartphones support auto-authentication at AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots, making it automatic and convenient for customers to connect. In the first quarter of 2010, the majority of AT&T Wi-Fi connections (69 percent) were made from smartphones and integrated devices, up from 35 percent a year ago in the first quarter of 2009.

AT&T's Wi-Fi network complements its wired broadband and wireless 3G networks, offering Wi-Fi connectivity in more than 20,000 U.S. locations - including retail stores, restaurants and coffee shops from coast-to-coast. A full list of AT&T Wi-Fi locations is available at

Largest Wi-Fi network claim based on non-municipal company and owned and operated hotspots. An 802.11 b/g enabled device required.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.