Google is providing free Internet access to southwest Chelsea in New York, making this area the first free WiFi enabled neighborhood in Manhattan.
Google partnered with The Chelsea Improvement Company and design/installation company Sky-Packets to place free Wi-Fi between Gansevoort St. and 19th St. from 8th Ave. to the West Side Highway. It’s also available in public spaces like the Chelsea Triangle, Gansevoort Plaza and 14th Street Park.
This network will mainly spread across outdoor areas, like the Fulton Houses (property owned and managed by the New York City Housing Authority) and many local public schools.
“Google is proud to provide free WiFi in the neighborhood we have called home for over 6 years,” said Ben Fried, Chief Information Officer for Google. “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.”
The main idea behind providing free Internet access is to use it as a tool for teaching children, keep parents connected to the schools, and attract new businesses to the area.
Google is known for providing free WiFi in many areas. In 2009, it offered free WiFi in 47 airports for the holidays. Last year, both Google and Microsoft were looking to get their hands on “white spaces,” which are areas of unused airwaves, in the United Kingdom. For Google, getting these white spaces could mean offering free WiFi services to customers with its Android-powered phones as well as the general public.
The new network in southwest Chelsea will be the largest contiguous WiFi network in New York City.