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Time Warner, Cablevision Offering 'Free' NYC Park Wi-Fi
Though it's free only for 30 minutes a month
by Karl Bode 11:07AM Wednesday Sep 15 2010
According to the New York Daily News, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision have agreed to spend $10 million to provide WiFi service in 32 New York City parks in exchange for a ten year franchise extension. The service will be free for up to three 10-minute sessions a month - a total of 30 minutes per person. After that, the companies plan to charge 99 cents per day for use. City council members who wanted free Wi-Fi in city parks are a bit annoyed, as is NY non profit NYCWireless, which has few kind words about the deal on their blog:
As a tax-paying resident of NYC, I'm personally offended that DoITT would allow a CableCo to make money off of our tax-funded parks. TWC had revenue of $17.9 billion in 2009, and they are paying part of $10 million to light up NYC parks. That's less than 0.05% of their revenue. Meanwhile, they stand to make $10's of millions of dollars per year providing this service. . . This seems to be DoITT selling out NYC residents and tax-payers. And we shouldn't be surprised considering how DoITT and the NYC government have been in the telco's/cableco's back pocket for years.
As with the Verizon FiOS NYC franchise agreement, the Time Warner Cable and Cablevision's franchise renewal was hashed out with the Bloomberg administration behind closed doors, and in the case of FiOS, resulted in an agreement with weak conditions, riddled with loopholes. For instance Verizon's citywide franchise requires they deploy service to all of NYC by 2014, but the contract itself is packed with clauses allowing Verizon to buy or wiggle their way out of this obligation.

Cablevision of course already paid $300 million to upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0, and deploy Wi-Fi along most NYC commuter rail lines (Time Warner Cable piggybacks on these installs as well. That service is offered as a free perk to paying subscribers -- and we've dropped Cablevision a line to see if this park Wi-Fi will be free for Cablevision users as well. If it is, that's a big win for Cablevision, who then gets to advertise their service to the city's 8 million inhabitants in most major parks.

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