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NYC’s Southwest Chelsea neighborhood to be blanketed by free WiFi courtesy of Google

You may remember our prediction post back when the new year kicked off. One of those predictions was that Google would look to begin a network of free public WiFi in many areas of America. It was little more than wishful thinking — at least for the foresight of a quick beginning for this year — but Google just might be showing signs of such an initiative.

The company has sort-of gotten started on a trek of free public WiFi as it will work with the Chelsea Improvement Company to provide service to residents of the Southwest Chelsea neighborhood in New York City. While Google’s motives might be a bit selfish — one of its offices is in that area — it’s still a start that could lead to some very exciting times in the future.

Free WiFi is now available outdoors, roughly between Gansevoort St. and 19 St. from 8th Ave to the West Side Highway, as well as the neighborhood’s public spaces, including the Chelsea Triangle, 14th Street Park, and Gansevoort Plaza.

To be honest we don’t expect a ton of other areas to get this same treatment even within the next five years, but the fact that Google wants to try it out with this relatively small neighborhood gives us hope for the popularity of public WiFi hotspots in the United States. Read on for the full press details.

Southwest Chelsea to Become First WiFi Neighborhood in Manhattan

Google Teams with Chelsea Improvement Company to provide neighborhood WiFi

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Google and The Chelsea Improvement Company have announced they have partnered to provide free public WiFi internet access in southwest Chelsea, which will provide free Internet access to hundreds of thousands of people each year. It will become the first wired neighborhood in Manhattan and the largest contiguous WiFi network in New York City.

“We are excited to partner with Google in creating an important digital amenity in New York City and giving thousands of New Yorkers free Internet access”

Free WiFi is now available outdoors, roughly between Gansevoort St. and 19 St. from 8th Ave to the West Side Highway, as well as the neighborhood’s public spaces, including the Chelsea Triangle, 14th Street Park, and Gansevoort Plaza. The Chelsea WiFi Network was designed and installed by Sky-Packets.

The Mayor’s office and the City of New York’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications worked with Google and Chelsea Improvement Company to transform the two companies’ aspirations into a reality, advising them on installation.

“Google is proud to provide free WiFi in the neighborhood we have called home for over 6 years. This network will not only be a resource for the 2000+ residents of the Fulton Houses, it will also serve the 5,000+ student population of Chelsea as well as the hundreds of workers, retail customers and tourists who visit our neighborhood every day,” said Ben Fried, Chief Information Officer for Google. The network will cover all of the outdoor areas of the Fulton Houses, a property owned and managed by the New York City Housing Authority, as well as several of the local public schools.

“We are excited to partner with Google in creating an important digital amenity in New York City and giving thousands of New Yorkers free Internet access,” said Dan Biederman, President of the Chelsea Improvement Company.

“Each day access to the Internet becomes more and more important to finding a good job or getting a good education, and this neighborhood-wide wireless network will provide that resource to hundreds of thousands,” said Schumer. “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.”

“New York is determined to become the world’s leading digital city, and universal access to high-speed Internet is one the core building blocks of that vision,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Thanks to Google, free WiFi across this part of Chelsea takes us another step closer to that goal.”

“I applaud this important collaboration between Google and the Chelsea Improvement Company to bring free public WiFi Internet access to residents, students, and visitors of southwest Chelsea,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This public-private partnership benefits the local community while further cementing Google’s role as an important contributor to the future development of the area as a hub for the city’s technology industry. I also want to thank Mayor Bloomberg and everyone at the NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications for working collaboratively to make this possible.”

“Chelsea WiFi is a great new resource for our neighborhood. Hudson Guild will use the network as a teaching resource for kids, as a tool to connect older adults inside and outside the senior center and to stay in touch with working parents. This free Internet access will, literally, help Chelsea stay connected,” said Ken Jockers, Executive Director of the Hudson Guild.