Our friends at Wi-Fi Net News are reporting (via NY Daily News) that the New York City Government (Bloomberg et. al.) and DoITT (the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications) have completed a behind closed doors negotiation with Time Warner Cable and Cablevision to give away our free Wi-Fi in NYC Parks to the cableco’s in exchange for their franchise renewal.
We don’t have all the details yet, but according to the NY Daily News, NYC residents and visitors can sign up for 3 10-minute sessions per month of Wi-Fi internet access in parks. This isn’t Free Wi-Fi, like NYCwireless, the Downtown Alliance, and others provide, since you need to pay $0.99/day after you use up your 10-minute sessions.
As a tax-paying resident of NYC, I’m personally offended that DoITT would allow a CableCo to make money off of our tax-funded parks. TWC had revenue of $17.9 billion in 2009, and they are paying part of $10 million to light up NYC parks. That’s less than 0.05% of their revenue. Meanwhile, they stand to make $10’s of millions of dollars per year providing this service. (Central Park gets about 25m visitors per year, and if we ignore all other parks, and figure that fewer than half of those visitors buy one day of internet service, we get $0.99 x 10 million visitors = $10m.)
This seems to be DoITT selling out NYC residents and tax-payers. And we shouldn’t be surprised considering how DoITT and the NYC government have been in the telco’s/cableco’s back pocket for years.
A few more notes:
- If its not 24/7 Free, its not Free Wi-Fi. Period. This is clearly not “Free Wi-Fi” but rather government sanctioned subscription Wi-Fi.
- That DoITT released this on primary day was a clear attempt to bury this news because it knew it was doing wrong by residents of NYC.
- The previous Park Wi-Fi program with WiFiSalon drove that company out of business. See our post: Wi-Fi Salon Shuts Down
- What happened to DoITT’s plan to offer a more open and sustainable park Wi-Fi program? They put out an RFI last year (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doitt/html/miscs/rfiwifi.shtml), and we (NYCwireless) had quite a lot to say about it (see Response to City Wireless Internet Access for New York City Parks and Other Open Spaces (DoITT RFI) and Our Take: NYC RFI on “City Wireless Internet Access for New York City Parks and Other Open Spaces”). But at least they were trying to ask the right questions…
- And what of security and privacy issues? Isn’t this deal like the city saying that we all should be giving our personal and billing information to TWC and Cablevision? What sort of protection has the city negotiated on our behalf?
Only time will tell if DoITT and the NYC Government decide to take the correct path and release an RFP for Free Park Wi-Fi as they indicated they would last year. If they don’t, we’re going to continue to see failure and lack of leadership from the NYC Park Wi-Fi program.
But fear not, NYCwireless will still be here and we’ll still be providing real Free Wi-Fi to all city residents and visitors.
We missed this item last week, but it seems that the MTA has put out an RFP for Wi-Fi service on LIRR and MetroNorth trains and at stations. You can download the PDF (3mb) or view it inline.
NYC MTA Wireless Broadband RFP 2010 http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=33695734&access_key=key-2cfhbxywxnmhy0ffu4t6&page=1&viewMode=list
Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Net News has a great writeup about this RFP, which leaves a lot to be desired:
The MTA wants a service provider who would operate a network to bear all the expense of installation and operation (including railroad labor costs for same), provide 24×7 customer support, and uninterrupted service.
But the proposal is pretty muddled. While digital advertising (changeable signs on board trains and at stations) should be part of a bidder’s thinking to minimize the cost in installing such systems, there’s no spec for those systems. A bidder can build a bid partly around offering such services. The MTA also likes bids in which the authority shares in revenue.
I don’t see how this could fly. No sensible firm would propose taking on all this expense without any assurance of revenue beyond the public Wi-Fi side of the system. Despite the large number of passengers, many of those most likely to pay already have 3G service on smartphones or through laptop cards. There’s no operational services component, and that should be the baseline for any new rail RFP of the last five years.
This is a great upcoming event, and NYCwireless will be there:
Voterbook Manhattan, the Media and Democracy Coalition, People’s Production House and Free Press invite you to a panel and town hall:
WHEN: Saturday, April 3, 2 p.m.
WHERE: P.S. 20, the Anna Silver School
166 Essex Street, Lower East Side
A town hall discussion and panel about Internet access, what it means in our community, the threats from big cable and phone companies to censor your speech online – and how you can fight back.
Kris Rios, media policy associate with People’s Production House
Tim Karr, campaign director with Free Press
Dr. Michael Livermore, director of the NYU School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity
… and more!
Free and open to all. We will be screening some of the People’s Production House documentary “The Internet is Serious Business,” taking questions, and having a lively discussion.
For more information and to RSVP, contact Jeff Kurzon at email@example.com, or Hannah Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-888-8036.
We look forward to seeing you!
Our intrepid, on-the-street Wi-Fi sleuth Klaus Ernst has discovered that Penn Station now has some free Wi-Fi courtesy of Amtrak. Wandering through the station, he snagged a screenshot of the login screen from his iPod Touch.
Klaus tells us that the connection is speedy (7Mbps down/1.7 up), and that its available throughout the Amtrak waiting area and most of the rest of that level. The free Wi-Fi in Penn Station is part of Amtrak’s recently launched Wi-Fi program on their Acela trains.
Let us know if you try out this network or the one on the Acela trains. We’d love to hear about people’s experiences!
I was asked to sit on a panel last Thursday about “THE FOUR SCREENS: Everything you had no idea you needed to know but were afraid to ask!” by my friend Bill Sobel at SobelMedia. My fellow panelists represented a great variety of old and new media expertise, and I brought some mobile knowledge to the table:
What comes after television, the internet and mobile is what has been commonly referred to as the fourth screen. But what is the deal with all these screens. What are they, why are they important and what do we as producers, designers, technologists and marketers need to know?
- SCREEN 1: Traditional Broadcast and Cable Television starring Steve Ronson: EVP/AETN (A&E Television Networks)
- SCREEN 2: Desktop, Laptop and computers starring Lance Podell: CEO/NextNewNetworks
- SCREEN 3: Wireless and Mobile starring Dana Spiegel: Executive Director of NYCwireless
- SCREEN 4: Digital out-of-home advertising and everything else starring Michael Kogon: Founder and CEO/Definition6
The panel was picked up by Advertising Age: Chasing Mobile Audiences Beyond Phones:
Although they get all the press, phones aren’t actually the only devices that make up our rapidly expanding world of mobile communications. Laptops and portable game consoles are also being widely used by on-the-go consumers. And companies like Yahoo and Google are paying close attention to that. Both sponsored expansive free wifi services for the holidays. Yahoo’s blanketed Times Square, while Google’s took to the airports and skies beyond.