Google announced in early January that it is offering free public WiFI Internet service in the neighborhood of its New York City headquarters, which is the southwest suburb of Chelsea. Google says that the new service is providing free Internet access to hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors to New York. It is the biggest WiFi network in the city.
According to Google, free WiFi is now available “roughly between Gansevoort St. and 19 St. from 8th Ave to the West Side Highway, as well as the neighborhood’s public spaces, including the Chelsea Triangle, 14th Street Park, and Gansevoort Plaza.” No password is required to access the free WiFi network.
Google, which had its latest Panda update in December, has had its NYC headquarters in Chelsea for six years. The company says that the free network will be a great resource for thousands of residents, more than 5000 students, and hundreds of workers, retail customers and tourists who visit the area on a daily basis.
Officials in the city have praised Google’s action. They say that it is yet another step towards the goal of New York City to be one of the most vital tech hubs on the planet.
Since Google moved into its HQ on 111 Eighth Avenue, it has been working with New York officials to jumpstart the tech economy in the city. Google recently donated office space to Cornell University, which is building a new engineering school on Roosevelt Island. Officials hope that this school be a focal point of research and entrepreneurship to provide a boost to the local economy, as Stanford did for Silicon Valley, and as MIT did for Boston.
There is no doubt that some of Google’s motives with the new WiFi network in Chelsea are not totally altruistic. The network costs just $115,000 to build and $40,000 a year to maintain. Google is covering 2/3 of the cost, and the nonprofit group Chelsea Improvement Co is handling the rest. Google made a $25 billion profit last year, so the PR value of this move is far more than the cost to the company.
Also, keep in mind that the more people use broadband Internet, the more Google searches are made and the more money the company makes.
There seems to be no end to Google’s involvement in our lives, and maybe it’s not a bad thing…hey, you can even use Google to help you with your New Year’s resolution!