Google is once again showing off the wonders of free wifi by providing it to residents of Manhattan's swanky Chelsea neighborhood in a 7-block by 3-avenue (3 New York avenues is the rough equivalent of ten city blocks) from Gansevoort to 19th and 8th Ave to the West Side Highway. The area includes Google's New York headquarters, as well as a chunk of the High Line, a popular park built on a defunct elevated train track. A few thousand residents as well:
"Google is proud to provide free WiFi in the neighborhood we have called home for over six years," said Ben Fried, Chief Information Officer for Google, in a statement. "This network will not only be a resource for the two thousand-plus residents of the Fulton Houses, it will also serve the five thousand-plus student population of Chelsea as well as the hundreds of workers, retail customers and tourists who visit our neighborhood every day."
Google also provides free wifi for the city of Mountain View, which houses Google's headquarters. The move is generous--all that bandwidth can't be cheap--great for public relations, something that will make Google all the more attractive to new cities, and, in the long term, a political statement. In addition to the roads, bridges, train lines, and water systems that could use an infusion of infrastructure money, another major public works project the U.S. could undertake to improve lives and get us out of the recession would be an expansion of free wifi. Certain cities, such as Chapel Hill, N.C. already offer free wifi in certain areas, and it would make sense to start on a city-level. Leading by example, Google is making the concept of public wifi a reality for more and more people.