“The Heartland Institute”:1, an organization that has published anti-municipal wireless reports in the past, has “posted an article about Google’s sponsorship of Bryant Park”:2. In the article, Steven Titch spouts a number of unfounded and inaccurate claims regarding muniwireless initiatives by the company.
I’d like to correct a few of the errors in Mr. Titch’s article:
* NYCwireless is a non-profit organization that *has no affiliation* with any part of the NYC government. We were not “formed by the city”.
* There has never been any discussion of Google “owning” any hotspot in NYC. Hotspots in NYC are owned by the people that build and operate them, including the “Bryant Park Restoration Corporation”:3 and the “Alliance for Downtown New York”:4 to name a few. The Public Internet Project merely supply support for Bryant Park. Google, and in the past Intel, sponsor the hotspot, providing operational funds to keep the hotspot running.
* Google’s sponsorship *does not* offer *”more evidence that cities cannot operate free Wi-Fi networks”*. It merely provides evidence that companies may be willing to sponsor hotspots, especially popular ones.
And here’s the most important correction: *The New York City government and the NYC Parks Department have had no involvement in the Bryant Park Hotspot.* Bryant Park is a privately managed park under contract with the Parks Department, and NYCwireless and volunteers installed the Bryant Park Hotspot *for free*.
If anything, Google’s sponsorship of Bryant Park shows the popularity and importantance of public Wi-Fi. It is a shining example of how New York City can make use of free public infrastructure, like a park, to provide a worthwhile and meaningful service to residents and visitors. The park’s Wi-Fi network shows why cities *should be* paying attention and addressing issues of public broadband and wireless.