Google , in an expansion of its role as an Internet Service Provider, introduced Tuesday New York City's biggest contiguous free public Wi-Fi network in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
Google's choice of location for the giant network is no surprise: Chelsea is home to Google's New York headquarters, meaning employees out at lunch breaks or area meetings will be able to remain productive even while out of the office. The network runs between Gansevoort St. and 19 St. from 8th Ave to the West Side Highway and in area public spaces, including the Chelsea Triangle, 14th Street Park and Gansevoort Plaza.
The secured network will also be used by businesses, residents and students in the area, and it will cover the outdoor areas of the Fulton Houses, a housing project owned by the New York City Housing Authority.
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."
Jordan Newman, a Google spokesman, told Mashable that the new Wi-Fi network is Google's way of "giving back to the community that we've been in for the past six years or so." He also pointed out that Google has similar WiFi networks in Mountain View, Calif., where Google's main headquarters are located, and also in many neighborhoods with Google data centers.
Newman said the Wi-Fi network was in no way a precursor to a New York City rollout of Google Fiber , Google's high-speed broadband service recently introduced in Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City, Mo. He told Mashable there are no plans to bring Google Fiber to New York City or to expand Wi-Fi access to other parts of the city.
Despite Google's presence there, Chelsea is not yet a hotbed of technology startups  in New York City. Google's free Wi-Fi may change that.
Google previously worked with Boingo to provide 200 public hotspots around the city, including in several subway stations — a welcome bit of connectivity in an otherwise largely disconnected public transit system.
Would you use Google Wi-Fi if you were living, working or studying in Chelsea?
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January 08, 2013