Google offers free Wifi to its New York neighbors

Piggybacking off someone else’s Wifi is generally frowned upon – but Google is planning to allow residents of a 10-block area near its offices in New York to have a free connection.

The service is being offered in partnership with a local nonprofit neighborhood group, The Chelsea Improvement Co. It will cover a housing project with more than 2,000 tenants, as well as schools, other civic centers and local public spaces. Each location will get a download speed of between 5 and 10Mbps.

“Google is proud to provide free Wi-Fi in the neighborhood we have called home for over six years,” says Google’s chief information officer, Ben Fried.

“This network will not only be a resource for the 2,000-plus residents of the Fulton Houses, it will also serve the 5,000-plus student population of Chelsea as well as the hundreds of workers, retail customers and tourists who visit our neighborhood every day.”

It’ll be the largest contiguous Wifi network in New York City, says Google, costing $115,000 to set up and $45,000 a year to run. The cost will be split between Google and Chelsea Improvement Co.

The city currently offers Wifi in libraries and at 20 parks, with another 32 scheduled for connection. Google also teamed up with Boingo Wireless to bring free Wifi to some of the city’s subway stations last year.

“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,” says New York senator Charles Schumer.