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NYC partners with Cablevision, Time Warner Cable to bring WiFi hotspots to city parks

NYC partners with Cablevision, Time Warner Cable to bring WiFi hotspots to city parks
Edgar Alvarez
Edgar Alvarez|@abcdedgar|July 16, 2013 11:00 AM

Mayor Bloomberg's government is often finding ways to keep The Big Apple as connected to the internet as can be. Today, in an effort to bring more connectivity options to its residents (and tourists), the City of New York announced that it's teaming up with Cablevision and Time Warner Cable to add WiFi hotspots to 32 parks across the five boroughs. Of course, these will be available in addition to free services already provided by companies such as AT&T in select parts of the city.

Unlike with similar offerings, however, these new hotspots will require potential users to be Cablevision Optimum Online or Time Warner Cable broadband subscribers in order to get free access. Those who have the proper credentials will be able to connect gratis via a WiFi-enabled device anytime, while non-subscribers can do so at no cost for up to 30 minutes every 30 days, or for 99 cents per day. The full list of participating NYC parks can be found after the break, and fret not if your favorite didn't make it -- we're told WiFi is "coming soon" to more locations.

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Hotspots to be Installed and Maintained for Public Use through July 2020

Initiative Further Extends WiFi Service in Underserved Areas of City

Citywide Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul N. Merchant, Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Veronica M. White, Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot, Cablevision Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs Lee Schroeder, and Time Warner Cable Vice President of Government Relations for New York City Cathleen Sims today announced the launch of new WiFi service in 32 New York City parks. New Yorkers and visitors can now connect to the Internet for free using their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other WiFi-enabled devices for free up to 30 minutes each month, and for 99 cents per day. The NYC Parks WiFi service is free at all times to Cablevision and Time Warner Cable broadband subscribers. Additional WiFi park locations across the city will be launched on a rolling basis as part of this program negotiated by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT). The event was held this morning at St. James Park in the Bronx – one of the more than 30 locations offering the newly-launched service.

"With NYC Parks WiFi we're further transforming New York City into a hub for connectivity and extending the reach of broadband citywide," said Citywide Chief Information and Innovation Officer Merchant. "Negotiated as part of franchise agreements with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems, this initiative expands WiFi service to millions of New Yorkers and visitors in some of our City's most beautiful and historic sites. We are advancing the Bloomberg Administration's vision of the digital city and leveraging the City's franchising authority for the public good."

"Parks are not only great places for relaxation and recreation, they are also ideal for surfing the net," said NYC Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White. "Thanks to our partnership with DoITT, NYC Digital, Cablevision, and Time Warner, more New Yorkers will be now able to enjoy WiFi access in their local parks. As we become an increasingly digital city, we are pleased that this agreement is facilitating more than 30 new sites coming online in all five boroughs."

"Increased access to public WiFi is one of the most popular requests we hear from New Yorkers, so today's announcement will be welcome news to residents and visitors alike," said Rachel Haot, New York City's Chief Digital Officer. "By connecting more New Yorkers, we're able to achieve the City's goals of Internet access and engagement, underscoring Mayor Bloomberg's Digital Roadmap."

"I'm excited about the opportunity of bringing free WiFi to constituents in district 14. Being able to go on the Internet has become a need, so it is great that New Yorkers surrounding the parks are going to have an alternative way to stay connected and move forward with technology. Access to free Wi-Fi adds a new meaning to the word 'playground,'" says Council Member Fernando Cabrera.

NYC Parks WiFi, provided by Cablevision and Time Warner Cable, will be maintained through July 2020 as part of these companies' franchise renewal agreements negotiated with the City and finalized in 2011. The agreements include a $10 million investment fund for WiFi deployment in parks and public spaces across the five boroughs. Hotspots will be distributed throughout City parks, with the majority of the locations in the outer boroughs. The goal of the program is equip areas currently lacking widespread Internet access with high-quality WiFi. These services are in addition to existing WiFi service in parks provided by AT&T and other organizations.

"We are proud to continue our long partnership with New York City to expand Optimum WiFi into the city's public parks. As a WiFi leader, Cablevision has the nation's largest and most advanced WiFi network with more than 80,000 hotspots throughout the Tri-State area, and this initiative enables our customers to easily, automatically connect to WiFi and help save on expensive cellular data charges," said Lee Schroeder, Cablevision senior vice president of government and public affairs. "We look forward to working with the City to deliver an exceptional WiFi experience for park visitors and to expand WiFi into more locations."

"WiFi deployment is a top initiative for Time Warner Cable, and we're proud to partner with DoITT and NYC parks to bring WiFi access to parks throughout the City," said John Quigley, Time Warner Cable's Regional Vice President of Operations for NYC. "These hotspots join tens of thousands of TWC WiFi™ Hotspots now available throughout New York City and the tri-state area allowing our customers to conveniently enjoy free, on-the-go Internet access."

NYC Parks WiFi now includes hotspots in the following parks across the five boroughs, with more locations coming soon.

1. Bronx Park (Ranaqua)
2. Gun Hill Playground
3. St. James Park & Recreation Center
4. St. Mary's Park & Recreation Center
5. Seton Falls Park
6. Owen Dolen Recreation Center

7. Herbert Von King Cultural Arts Center
8. Coney Island (Steeplechase Park)
9. Marine Park (Nature Center)
10. Wingate Park
11. Manhattan Beach
12. Gravesend Park
13. Brownsville Recreation Center
14. Cadman Plaza Park
15. Carroll Park
16. Prospect Park (Bandshell)
17. St. John's Recreation Center

18. Bryant Park
19. Jackie Robinson Park
20. Madison Square Park
21. Riverside Park (W.79th Street Boat Basin)

22. Baisley Pond Park
23. Bowne Park
24. Cunningham Park
25. Kissena Park
26. Railroad Park
27. Roy Wilkins Park & Recreation Center

Staten Island:
28. Greenbelt Recreation Center (Blood Root Valley)
29. Tappen Park
30. Barrett Park (Staten Island Zoo)
31. Snug Harbor Cultural Center
32. Tompkinsville Park

A complete list of City parks currently offering WiFi service is available at: nyc.gov/parkswifi

NYC Parks WiFi provides a fast connection to the Internet from portable devices. Guests can login for free for 10 minutes at a time, up to three times in a 30 day period. The service is also available for 99 cents per day for a single device. Qualified Internet subscribers from Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox, and Bright House Networks will be able to access NYC Parks WiFi free of charge at all times.

In addition to paying the City a franchise fee of five percent of the revenues generated from its cable television services – the maximum percentage permitted by Federal law – as part of their franchise agreement renewals, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems also agreed to a range of technology enhancements to public parks, community centers and organizations, commercial centers, and the City's telecommunications infrastructure valued at more than $60 million. The franchise contracts, which run through July 18, 2020, were negotiated by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications and unanimously approved by the City's Franchise and Concession Review Committee in August 2011.

NYC partners with Cablevision, Time Warner Cable to bring WiFi hotspots to city parks