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NYC Parks to get somewhat free, very limited wifi

Guess what, New York City?

Time Warner and Cablevision are bringing wifi to 32 city parks. And by merit of being in New York City, you’re entitled to three whole ten minute sessions a month! After that, you have to pay 99 cents a day. It wasn’t clear how Time Warner and Cablevision plan to track and monitor usage to implement charges.

One city official who helped broker the deal described it as “fine,” which is about a step up from “meh.” Other politicians weren’t so impressed by the sample-sized wi-fi for New Yorkers:

“There should be totally free wireless in the parks,” said City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan). As head of the Council’s Technology in Government Committee, Brewer has made the fight for free WiFi one of her signature issues.

“This sounds like a joke,” she said when told of the deal. “I don’t understand how this works logistically. How will they track people’s use and charge everyone?”

“It’s pure bait-and-switch,” said Dana Spiegel, head of NYCwireless, a nonprofit group that has helped set up free WiFi at Bryant, Madison Square and a half-dozen other public parks.

“The way people use WiFi in public spaces is not to hop on and hop off after a few minutes,” Spiegel said. “Real people use it for a half hour or hours at a time, and that means the cable companies will end up charging them.”

Tuesday’s announcement didn’t specify when New Yorkers could expect the “free” wi-fi to become available in the city’s parks.

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