With the City of New York and AT&T announcing a new initiative to bring free WiFi to over 26 different New York City public spaces for five years, many are rejoicing this awesome opportunity and great convenience. As of now, this program is only in operation at four locations throughout the city, including Battery Bosque in Battery Park. For residents of Battery Park, the offering of free WiFi is yet another triumph, as the blossoming district recently celebrated the completion of the last two empty parcels earlier this year. In addition to the free swimming lessons offered at the Asphalt Green to public school children during the day, the availability of WiFi in the Battery Bosque is symbolic of the strong effort to forge community in the tip of Manhattan.
However, after celebrating this awesome show of corporate citizenship by AT&T to New York City residents, one will probably wonder “what is free WiFi? Doesn’t someone have to pay for this?” With this initiative to be introduced to seventeen more locations throughout the city’s five boroughs, this is by no means a cost free endeavor. However, when one steps back and reflects upon similar moves by AT&T in area of WiFi service (such as its WiFi arrangement with Starbucks), this could be a very savvy move by the telecomm giant, who posted over $124 billion dollars in revenue in 2010.
When you look at where in New York City these wireless networks are being placed (Harlem, Fort Green, Park Slope), one realizes that this program will attract a younger and more professional demographic, which then serves as potential AT&T customers. This socially benevolent initiative will not only require one to have a WiFi capable device (such a device and its monthly data plan require a certain income level); it is also a marketing campaign which AT&T hopes will leave many hooked to the company’s brand and its services.
So to the question: What is free WiFi ?- It is a free amenity which makes “on the rise” New York City neighborhoods such as Battery Park, even more attractive. And for AT&T it is a long term marketing investment which is expected to pay huge dividends.