NYC Parks To Get Free WiFi, At A Price

New Yorkers are slated to get free wifi in 32 public parks next year, but it will come with a pricetag. Park users will get three 10 minute sessions per month, and after that pay 99 cents a day. The money goes to Time Warner and Cablevision, who agreed to provide the wifi as part of the city agreeing to renew their cable-tv franchises for 10 years. Public advocates promptly slammed the deal as the privatization of a public good.

“There should be totally free wireless in the parks,” City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) told New York Daily News. “This sounds like a joke.”

The two companies will spend $10 million to make the service happen. Since their service contracts expired two years ago, Time Warner and Cablevision have been holding closed-door negotiations with the city not open to the public or press. The contracts to provide cable-tv service to almost 2 million households are worth over $25 billion.

“We think we’ve done a pretty good job in negotiating some pretty creative stuff in this franchise agreement,” city spokesman Bruce Regal told New York Daily News. “Overall, it’s a fine package.”

The NYC Council will be holding a hearing on the topic this morning, Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 11:00 a.m. in the 16th Floor Committee Room, 250 Broadway, New York, NY.

Does the plan, which is still be hammered out, take the “airport” approach to wifi, at the expense of citizens? Does it privatize what should be a public good, like water or playgrounds? Or is the plan a reasonable way to defray costs while preventing against outright abuses of the system? Sound off in the comments.

City parks to get free Wifi, but limited to 30 minutes per user per month [New York Daily News]

Comments

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  1. Mcshonky says:

    Bloomberg is supposed to be this great business man and makes himself out to be for the little guy.

    EPIC FAIL!

    But somehow every cab ride has a tv to sell me crap, I’m sure when subway stations get bathrooms they’ll have those mirrors that play commercials and the sidewalks will light up with ads.

    But luckily our children as a whole still won’t be able to read and write.

  2. nbs2 says:

    Three 10 minute sessions? I have a feeling that the fine folks of NYC aren’t going to get much usage out of that. I suspect a lot of people will end up using a couple of minutes and then moving on.

    Questions:
    1) How are they going to track users? I’m glad to see that I am not the only one asking this question.
    2) When are they going to start doing this with public water fountains – at least water is a tangible physical good with limited quantities?
    3) When are they going to start doing this with playgrounds? Both are systems that can accommodate a theoretical infinite, but limited at any given moment, number of users. Both also require periodic maintenance.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      1. MAC addresses?

      And yes, SOME people will just write a script that rotates them every ten minutes, just like SOME people keep changing shirts to get more free samples of these yummy pizza rolls. But not enough for it to matter.

      • nbs2 says:

        So NYC will register each device that joins their network (after all, they need to be able to bill you). What happens if I put in a different name on each of my WiFi enabled devices?

        I’m going to have to sign in each time I use the service, since I’d get angry if the system automatically joined a network and I got dinged for pulling a couple bytes of data as I walked past a park.

        What sort of bandwidth and reliability is being promised? I’d hate to get charged because TWC is taking its sweet time to get me my data.

        • SonicPhoenix says:

          Every wireless system everywhere “registers” the MAC address of the wireless device connecting to it. That’s how the devices on the network talk to each other.

          I’m sure that all it does is count ten minutes from when the MAC address is first registered then after that redirect you to a login page. You should only need one login. Once you’re logged in it should be fine.

          Your anger shows a fundamental lack of knowledge about how IT and wireless systems work.

          If you’re going to be angry about being charged for wireless in a public park that’s one thing but why are you expressing anger at the mechanics of how the system will work when that hasn’t even been determined yet and you clearly don’t understand the technical pieces?

          • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

            Imperious Poster is imperious.

          • theduckay says:

            Wow, where is the original commenter “angry” at all? He/she was just curious about how it all works, as was I. Yes, some of us don’t have as much knowledge as YOU do of how IT systems work…I wasn’t aware that there was some law that required us to. You’re incredibly arrogant and pompous.

            • RvLeshrac says:

              I think this rolls back to the First Post, where Mcshonky indicated out children won’t be able to read.

              Because the OP said nothing of the sort. The commenter above did.

              “I’m going to have to sign in each time I use the service, since I’d get angry if the system automatically joined a network and I got dinged for pulling a couple bytes of data as I walked past a park.”

      • daemonaquila says:

        Or, there will be a list of MAC addresses of paid-up users floating around on various torrents, etc. A new sport akin to wardriving will be born.

      • kc2idf says:

        I should have read your comment before I wrote mine below. I’d bet the script has already been written.

    • Razor512 says:

      A connection like that will be heavily monitored. It will most likely use a captive portal like system where users are required to accept a certificate (this will allow them to monitor SSl traffic)

      there will bee no privacy with that internet, (it will be listed under a license agreement (this is standard practice)

      If they can limit the amount of time then they are most likely using some kind of login system that may be tied to either a port of a SSN or credit card info. It may end up being canceled after a while when people start abusing it’s security flaws

      for example using karma to sidejack the wifi and stealing personal info, it will get blames on the city and the city will lose money and raise taxes and eventually shut it down.

      Also who uses a laptop in a part in NY, I know people are depressed about the economy but they are not in that much of a hurry to die, especially over a laptop.

  3. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    how useless.

  4. Larraque eats babies says:

    Thats not how you define free, new york.

  5. punkrawka says:

    How is wi-fi a “public good?” I didn’t see “freedom from lack of pervasive mobile internet access, even if it costs someone else money to set up” as one of the inalienable constitutional rights. Maybe I missed that amendment.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      Amendment 802.11.

    • zibby says:

      “There should be totally free wireless in the parks,” City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) told New York Daily News. “This sounds like a joke.”

      No word yet on how much of her own personal savings Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) has pledged to make this happen, but given her apparent outrage we expect it will be substantial!

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      Bingo!!

      If you want or can even claim to need wireless, high speed internet, PAY FOR IT YOURSELF!! Nobody owes anybody anything.

      • ExtraCelestial says:

        If the companies are making 25 billion out of this back door deal then THEY need to be the ones paying for it. NYC is paying for it with cable packages twice the amount they would be if other providers were allowed to compete

        • leprechaunshawn says:

          Citation please? Are NYC residents really paying twice the amount they should be due a lack of competiton?

          Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Dish Network and DirecTV are all available where I live, in southeastern Wisconsin. My DirecTV bill is about $90 per month for a package that includes over 225 channels including those offered in HD. I also have DVR service plus one standard receiver. I simply cannot believe that a similar package from TWC or Cablevision would cost almost $200 in NYC.

          • evnmorlo says:

            You too might be paying twice as much, because with only a couple of options there is no competition. Direct TV will set its price to be about the same as the cable franchise in your area

          • pythonspam says:

            Dish and DirecTV that require a physical dish may not be an option for all those NY’s that live in condos/apartments where one can not be installed.

          • SideshowCrono says:

            Well actually we may be paying twice as much for cable in NYC but claiming its all because of the gov’t granted monopolies would be disingenious.

            I certainly pay like 160 a month but I get a lot of premium channels and a solid internet connection> (Yeah yeah you all make your premium channels at home). But EVERYTHING in Manhattan is more expensive. Our ‘dollar menu’ items are 1.29!

            1.29! So yeah, its more complicated then just saying its all because of Cablevision and Comcast.

            And anyways, I have RCN too so anyone who thinks those two have a lock on all of Manhattan is incorrect.

      • theduckay says:

        “Nobody owes anybody anything.”

        I’m getting a republicany vibe from you…

        • leprechaunshawn says:

          Yes, I typically vote Republican. They usually align more with my Conservative views than Democrats do.

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      The park is a public good, and therefore every service and aspect maintained therein.

      • rugman11 says:

        Except that the city is not maintaining the WiFi network. “The two companies will spend $10 million to make the service happen.” If New Yorkers would be willing to pony up extra tax revenue, the city would be able to provide free WiFi in the park. But given that this is a private service, paid for and operated by private companies, I don’t think this is unreasonable.

        Your options are this or nothing. Complaining about getting something instead of nothing is stupid.

        • Kate says:

          The issue is that a couple of companies are making money off a public asset – the right to run cables under the park and charge for wifi. And it was a closed meeting.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      The belief that wireless should be a public good is a developing one. Just as when education was once not thought of as a public good, society evolves and creates new ideas and ideals.

    • ARP says:

      The city has locked all of its residents into a 10 year agreement with these providers, essentially granting them a monopoly. Since the city has essentially limited the residents freedome of choice, many are viewing this “give” as meaningless in terms of the benefit of the bargain. Now, if the city was allowed to invite other telecom providers into the area freely, I’d be with you.

    • Joe User says:

      Choice: Everyone and anyone gets to run their own cables under the streets of Manhattan or grant Time Warner access to a limited resource?

      Yes, this is a public good.

    • DragonThermo says:

      I agree with you, punkrawka! There is no unalienable right to free wifi. The people who say that they have a right to free wifi in a public place are the same people claiming that free health care is a “right” and the “right” to have housing, food, etc.

      The problem with these positive rights, aka gimme rights, is that to exercise them, they cost someone else their liberty or property or otherwise infringe on their rights. Free wifi isn’t free. It costs someone to install the access points, provide power and Internet service, and run the proxy to keep track of accesses.

      They should be fortunate to get three free 10 minute sessions per month. And $1 a day is cheap for infrequent use. You can’t get a price ($/day) that low without entering into a 2-year contract.

      And $1/day wifi will be better than free wifi. Did Starbucks’ wifi service get better (faster) when it went from subscription to free? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

  6. skapig says:

    Setting up and maintaining such a large wireless network with a reasonable quality of service is not cheap. I guess someone wanted it in the parks in some shape and form pretty badly. it’s certainly not a priority for the city to be spending money on, so it got tacked on as a franchise condition.

    30 minutes a month seems a bit low, but on the other hand $1 / day is pretty reasonable assuming a decent level of service and that it’s not meant as a full-time ISP.

    • QuantumCat says:

      I agree. $1 a day is VERY reasonable. The 10 minute sessions is asinine though.

    • jesusofcool says:

      $1 a day is fairly reasonable considering the companies involved, though I’m skeptical as to how they’re going to track the ten minute sessions accurately.
      I do think the companies involved are missing a great community relationship building opportunity though here. Why not provide wireless in exchange for the city putting up signs around the parks with “Wireless sponsored by Comcast” and an auto Comcast homepage when you pull up a browser? Why aren’t the companies donating a tiny percentage of each fee back to the city Parks Maintenance?

  7. Southern says:

    10 minute sessions are worthless, as the speed of these connections is usually so low that by the time you get connected, load Internet Explorer, accept their “Terms and Conditions”, then get to Google, your 10 minutes are already used up.

    Not impressed.

    • zibby says:

      What’s really unimpressive is that with all the problems we have in New York City, sombody actually spent time putting together a half-assed deal to provide something that’s completely unnecessary. It’s enough to make you think somebody got paid here…

      • Southern says:

        With contracts supposedly worth $25 Billion and everything done behind “closed doors”, I think that’s pretty much a certainty.

  8. kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

    “Does it privatize what should be a public good?”

    I’m as much of a fan of free WiFi as the next person, but is there an intrinsic reason why it should be a public good?

    • babyruthless says:

      A public good is a good which lacks rivalry–this means that me using it doesn’t really affect your use of it. This is mostly true of Wifi–unless the bandwidth is totally clogged, then the addition of one more user won’t matter. Since NYC has millions of potential Wifi users at any given point, my use of Wifi will have such a tiny effect on the quality of the good that we can round it down to zero.

      Most of the time, the term “public good” also refers to goods that you can’t exclude people from using (clean air, national defense), but doesn’t have to. Wifi meets the non-rivalry definition of a public good, but probably not the (stricter) definition of also being non-excludable.

      • kmw2 says:

        Non-excludability can also refer to the cost-benefit ratio of exclusion. For example, toll roads are possible and certainly used, even though roads are normally considered a public good, but they’re not usually plausible when considering the costs and benefits- the cost of exclusion usually outweighs the benefit that is gained. The exceptions, like the London central congestion zone and I90 in Massachusetts, are areas where access is already restricted (due to the nature of the interstate highway system) or heavily monitored (due to London’s freakishly thick carpet of CCTV cameras). If the cost of excluding uses from a wifi network outweighs the money you’ll receive from them, then it can be considered functionally non-excludable. WiFi isn’t there yet in the US, given that we’re used to paying far over the odds for our mobile Internet access. However, costs are rapidly falling and they will, at some point, become too cheap to pay for security to prevent or reduce free riding. At that point, the excludability criteria for a public good will also be met.

        (This, of course, avoids questions of whether Internet access generally is a positive right; opinions vary on that, but there is a great deal of movement in the “yes” direction, especially given the rise of e-governance and a shift of the economy to the Internet.)

    • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

      They’re referring to the parks being a public good. So are all of the “perks” of the park. Benches, water fountains, playgrounds etc. That’s what they mean.

      • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

        Hmm. I can think of perks in several public parks that people have to pay for (and which are likely privatized to some extent).

  9. cspschofield says:

    OK, mark me as a luddite or something. I just can’t see that the public has a ‘right’ to free wifi service. SOMEBODY is going to have to pay for it somewhere along the line. Now, my gut reaction to any deal that perpetuates a cable monopoly si that it doesn’t hit the cable company hard enough if the company is still willing to sign it, but that’s because I hate cable companies, not because I have an actual REASON.

    If the tone of the quotes was “They are’t giving us enough service for the money they’re going to get” I could agree. “We should provide this as a free public service” sounds too much like another ‘free’ thing that the government is going to ‘give’ us, while running up a deficit and taxing us into leaving.

    Not what I call a good idea.

    • rushevents says:

      Gimmie this! Gimmie That! I got my rights!

      Dang I gotta move this town’s too expensive to live in anymore.

    • ARP says:

      If your city engaged in a deal with these telecoms to keep others out and allows them to charge much larger fees than other towns, then yes, I’d want something in return. The city got them a bad deal, and this perk doesn’t nearly make up for it.

  10. P=mv says:

    99 cents per day? Hell, that’s cheaper than my DSL connection, and the bandwidth couldn’t possibly be worse. I see no problem with charging such a reasonable price. Hotel prices for internet are what I gripe about, $7 a day is not even remotely reasonable.

  11. KlueBat says:

    Disclaimer: I am not a New York resident.

    I have to say this sounds pretty reasonalble to me. If you are passing by the park and just want to check your email and maybe add a few stories to your read later app, this is very cool. Also if you just want to get out of the office for a few hours and work outside, a buck is a small price to pay for that.

    The fact of the matter is that infrastructure costs money. NYC, like many other cities is coming up short in the budget these days. So with this deal the city gets the cable company to pay to set up and run the infrastructure and only the people who really need the service pay to use it. Those who go to the park to relax, play, or exercise don’t have to pay a cent for something they don’t intend to use.

  12. Straspey says:

    I can even do better in qualifying as a luddite…

    Forgive me for being so incredibly old-fashioned, but in my world, the whole reason to go into the park and sit on a bench or the grass is to GET AWAY from being connected to the internet – as in enjoying the scenery, feeding the birds, taking a stroll, munching on a hot dog or pretzel…erm…enjoying the company of a special friend maybe…?

    • zibby says:

      The problem, friend, is that you simply aren’t important enough to need to be in constant touch with the rest of the world! Whenever is see someone furiously texting something like, “At grocery store” or calling someone to say “We just came out of the tunnel oh we’re going back in bye” I can only fume with jealousy at the rich and fulfilling interactions these people are having with their fellow human beings. Someday, someday….

      • rushevents says:

        “I can only fume with jealousy at the rich and fulfilling interactions these people are having with their fellow human beings.”

        now that’s funny!

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Maybe on the weekend, but if you need to do stuff during the day that you can’t do at work, going outside on a nice day and doing it there would be kinda cool.

  13. katarzyna says:

    People are pretty darned entitled if they think wifi should be a free public service. If taxpayers paid for the infrastructure and maintenence, sure, but Time Warner and Cablevision are paying for it. (As much as I dislike those companies.)

  14. ExtraCelestial says:

    The deal certainly isn’t great, but it’s not completely unreasonable either considering their startup costs. However the fact that this is supposed to be some sort of “perk” for consumers so that Cablevision and Time Warner can continue monopolizing cable and internet, price gouging as much as they like for another decade is repulsive. This is lose-lose for NYC consumers. The only people profiting are the people in those closed door meetings.

  15. Yankees368 says:

    Just keep in mind that the existing Cablevision wifi network on Long Island (which is huge) has absolutely no access at all for non-cablevision users. Not only are NYC users getting free access, but they can pay a small fee for anytime access.

    • coffeeplease says:

      Um no, if the city negotiated it in exchange for re-upping the cable deal then that’s part of the package in lieu of a lower rate or any other changes to the contract. It’s a deal point.

  16. Blueskylaw says:

    “The two companies will spend $10 million to make the service happen – The contracts to provide cable-tv service to almost 2 million households are worth over $25 billion”

    So for every dollar spent on “FREE” WiFi, they will receive $2500 in revenue and yet they will still try to make money off of it. I guess the thought of giving something “intangible” away for free just goes against their profit maximizing frame of mind.

    • SideshowCrono says:

      If you are going to define wi-fi ‘service’ as an intangible, you can really define EVERY service as intangible.

      Free haircuts! Free lawyers! Free lawncare!

      It won’t cost anyone anything except time and money.

      Things have costs and costs should be born (at least in a large part) by those who utilize the service. It’s just fair.

      • Blueskylaw says:

        I should have put it into the context of this situation. If a hair salon got a 10 year monopoly to provide haircuts to city residents by agreeing to give away “free” haircuts, yet for every dollar of “free” haircut they gave away would provide $2500 in revenue and they would still try to make money off of the “free” haircuts then I would say they got one hell of a good deal.

        Remember, they are not giving it away for “free”, they are getting a 10 year monopoly to legally screw the residents of NYC.

        • SideshowCrono says:

          The reason cable companies get monopolies is because someone has to do all the work to lay the cables in the first place. The company who paid to lay the cables should be the ones who get to profit from it. It’s just a natural monopoly.

          It really has nothing to do with the wifi. That was an extra perk thrown in.

          • Blueskylaw says:

            So you’re saying that if cable companies didn’t get a monopoly because they had to install cables and such then NYC at this point in time still wouldn’t have cable?

  17. ExtraCelestial says:

    You guys are missing the point. This isn’t about free wifi being a right, it’s about City officials locking the residents into a 10 year contract for a “perk” no better than one you can get through Panera or Starbucks. It’s selling your soul to the devil for a half eaten box of stale Krispy Kremes

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      Or someone ELSE selling your soul rather

      • SideshowCrono says:

        Because every other county/city has such a wide selection of cable services?

        • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

          So that makes it okay? Seriously? Are we back in kindergarten now?

          “Well, everyone else is doing it!”

          • SideshowCrono says:

            No it means that cable services have a long tradition of being a gov’t sanctioned monopoly. At least they got something out of it.

            It’s just how its done. It’s hard to be too upset about the fact they only got a ‘little’ something extra.

        • ExtraCelestial says:

          Actually, yeah that’s the idea. This is an issue brought up frequently on this site. I’ve never lived in a house where I didn’t have multiple choices and my costs have always been significantly lower. A friend of mine lived in an apartment complex that contracted with Comcast, and the management company was sued less than a year into signing and forced to offer all available options to the tenants. You’re forgetting (or at least failed to mention) this also effects your internet options. Take a look at the way Time Warner does their packaging bundles in NYC. It’s insanity but they get away with it because people become complacent and think it’s acceptable that there isn’t competition

          • PsiCop says:

            For the record, where I live, we currently have only one viable choice for TV (other than antenna), and that’s cable.

            Verizon doesn’t do local service in CT, so no Fios. AT&T only offers Uverse in a few select affluent communities (e.g. Darien, parts of West Hartford, etc.), and will never provide it anywhere else (including where I am). Our house is in a heavily-forested area and satellite signals don’t get through the tall oaks very well.

            This means it’s our sole local cable franchise (i.e. Charter), or antenna. Nothing else. What this means is that there really are people in the US who do not have any choice in the matter. Monopolies do exist.

        • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

          Yes, most do.

          Don’t get around much, do you?

          • SideshowCrono says:

            Do you? Typically you get your choice of a couple. Cable companies are natural, court sanctioned monopolies because of the high cost of installing the infrastructure.

            Things cost money.

            • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

              Nice of you to move the goalposts, and simultaneously agree with me.
              1.. So many municipalities DO in fact offer choices in cable TV vendors.
              2. In exchange for this CITY-granted monopoly status, NYC gets ersatz “free” wi-fi for the parks. 3. Competition is good.

              What your statement “things cost money” has to do with my argument, or the article is a mystery. NYC got rooked (or, alternately, certain greedy hands in the decision making process allowed it to be rooked). No courts “sanction” monopolies (cite the case law that supports your assertion, please).

            • Southern says:

              They may be the only CABLE company, but there’s also FIOS, UVerse, Dish Network & Direc-TV.

              Frankly, I’d rather have U-Verse than any of ‘em.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      “It’s selling your soul to the devil for a half eaten box of stale Krispy Kremes”

      Where do I sign up?

  18. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    You mean that the companies who are spending millions of dollars want to maybe see a return on their investment?

    Those bastards!

    I deserve free wi-fis! I’m entitled! I feel a sense of entitlement! I’m me, so they should give it to me!

    We should have the government pay for this. They can raise taxes, and then it’ll be free! Except for the taxes! But just raise the taxes on everyone who makes more than me!

    Where’s my free lunch?

    • coffeeplease says:

      Did you read the story?

      The money goes to Time Warner and Cablevision, who agreed to provide the wifi as part of the city agreeing to renew their cable-tv franchises for 10 years.

      Again, if that is part of what the city negotiated for it’s public parks in exchange for giving these cable providers a monopoly on the city then free means free not free for 10 minutes.

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        Yeah, I read the story. The contract is stupid, will probably benefit nobody, and is a great example of government wanting to give away something that has intrinsic value.

        But the sense of entitlement that it “should” be free is silly. It’s NOT free. There is no free lunch. If the city gives it away, it comes from taxes. If the city has a contracted telecom give it away, like here, it comes out of economic choice.

        How many New Yorkers would rather have FiOS than what will probably be slow ass wifi?

        I’m upset both that NYC gave the two telecoms the key to the internet market again, and also that people harbor this absurd fantasy that “free wifi” is some kind of right.

        • coffeeplease says:

          If you read the story and understood that’s what the city negotiated in exchange for continuing this monopoly then you’d understand this sounds more like a breach of contract on Time Warners part.

          If the contract and the agreement indicates that wifi in public parts will be provided at no cost to those utilizing it then you’ve have to perhaps rethink your choice of words, specifically “sense of entitlement”, because based on the agreement NYC is indeed contractually entitled to free wifi in public parks in exchange for re-upping their cable monopoly in which we all pay for it anyway.

          Time Warner cable just raised rates in NYC for the second year in a row. I have no premium channels, 3 cable boxes, and cable internet and I now pay $164.98 a year and have no other choices for cable or cable internet due to them being given a monopoly in buildings. I’m already paying for this free wi-fi based on these insane rates.

          • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

            Well, I hate to say it, but if New York didn’t contract it well, and TWC and Cablevision just took advantage of that, then it’s NYC’s fault.

            I’m lucky, I live in Westchester. We’re used to nothing being free. Ever.

            However, I can bet you that if the telecoms did give free wi-fi, it would be crap and bogged down by torrenters and bandwidth hogs, and then everyone would complain when it slowed to a crawl.

            $1 is actually kind of nice– it serves as a deterrent from tragedy of the commons situations, but also is cheap enough to make it very useful.

            But let’s be honest: no free exists. Ever.

            • coffeeplease says:

              Well if that’s the case then it’s an entirely different matter and quite different from you yammering on about someone having a sense of entitlement.

              Would I have rather NYC negotiated a lower rate for it’s customers? You bet. Would I have rather NYC negotiated improved services? Sure. But instead free wi-fi was negotiated as part of the deal and like I said free doesn’t mean 10 minutes.

              Honestly if that’s the deal they worked out and 10 minutes is what we get I’d much rather them have taken bids for a paid service rather than this nonsense.

              And technically this wouldn’t have been truly free anyway if they were re-upping their deal, the residents of NYC would be paying for it in one way or another. Based on my current cable rates I already am. Just waiting on FIOS then going to jettison TWC all together.

              • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

                Boy howdy, I sure did offend you.

                OK, look, all I’m TRYING (and maybe failing?) to get at is that THERE IS NO FREE LUNCH.

                “Free” is not free if exclusivity contracts are in place. YOU pay for it by paying more for cable, because a duopoly will encourage high economic rents by the cable companies.

                Paying for something through giveaways to companies and then saying, “But I wanted freeeee!” and then being shocked that they want to charge because there are high fixed costs is just silly.

                It’s entitlement, pure and simple– misguided entitlement at that.

                I can understand people wanting it to be free, but I’m sick of people giving away pounds of taxes just to get ounces of benefits. It’s even more grating when those taxes are doled out to economic rent machines like cable companies, whose sole purpose for existing is to suck up revenue off of existing infrastructure.

                Getting all “rabble rabble rabble” here is absurd. It misses the point entirely, which is that we’re giving away the farm in exchange for trinkets. Then we get upset when the trinkets aren’t pretty enough.

          • Bye says:

            Can everybody please read this response before entering knee-jerk territory? This explains it all – even for those who can’t/don’t/won’t read the article.

  19. coffeeplease says:

    Most of the commenters here seem to be missing a key portion of the story yet again:

    The money goes to Time Warner and Cablevision, who agreed to provide the wifi as part of the city agreeing to renew their cable-tv franchises for 10 years.

    If the city negotiated free wifi in public parks for it’s residents in exchange for re-upping their monopoly on cable in New York then free means free, not free for 10 minutes.

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      THANK YOU!!! *giant applause*

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      I didn’t miss that. I badly mangled my attempt at being incensed.

      I think the real problem here isn’t the silly wi-fis. The real problem here is that the City is giving away economic competition for mere baubles, and then getting upset that the baubles aren’t shiny enough.

      People are upset that they’re paying a dollar for wi-fi, but they don’t seem to realize that the duopoly system set up in NYC is making them pay through the nose for cable.

      The companies are entitled to some kind of return on investment, however, so I say let it all be paid for, and accept the fact that nothin’ ain’t ever free, no sir.

  20. ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

    People, read carefully, when it’s slammed as privatization of a public good, they’re referring to the parks themselves, not wi-fi. They don’t want the public parks to be playgrounds and revenue streams for private business, rather than the non-profit resources for taxpayers that they were intended to be.

    It’s not about people being entitled to wifi.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      But paid wi-fi doesn’t affect a person’s ability to consume the good (the park, in this case).

      It’s like saying that having a cell tower on a nearby building is detrimental to my ability to enjoy the park, because it’s a paid-for service.

      The real problem, in my mind, is that it’s a half-assed product that will benefit nobody, except maybe the telecoms to a small degree.

      • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

        Like I say above, I want to set the record straight on what’s actually being said, rather than what everyone’s interpreting it to say based on a mis-interpreted sentence in the summary.

    • SideshowCrono says:

      You can pay to go to a restaurant in the park.

      You can pay for a hotdog in the park.

      You can pay to rent a boat in the park.

      You can pay to see a show in the park.

      You can pay to rent a bicycle in the park.

      You can pay to go fishing in the park.

      The thing in common with all of these is that you can pay to do them but you don’t have to do any of them to enjoy the park. Just like with the new wifi deal. If you do not like it, don’t use it. Just don’t pretend the park has been some sort of shining spectacle of ‘free’ as it has never been.

      • mac-phisto says:

        the difference here is that the wifi providers didn’t have to bid for the right to generate revenue from public land. those vendors that you refer to do. they lease the right to solicit for a pre-determined contract period in exchange for money paid to the city.

        in this case, the city is literally giving this away to the cable cos. without the normal bid process & without retaining any revenue from the right to provide the service.

        is this even legal?

      • coffeeplease says:

        If the city negotiated free wifi in public parks in as part of the agreement in re-upping the cable deal then it’s a contractual obligation, not a 10 minute obligation. It’s that simple.

        • SideshowCrono says:

          They didn’t negotiate to provide free wi-fi. They negotiated to provide 10 minutes of free wi-fi and then be able to charge for it.

          So they are keeping to their contract. You just want a better contract. And, frankly, why should anyone care what you want here?

      • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

        Well first of all, it’s up the people of the city to decide, which means no closed-off secretive deals. It’s their taxes, and I’m uncomfortable telling people I don’t share a city with how they should tax. As a general idea, I don’t think taxes for public services are the great evil they’re made out to be. The shift in the Overton window on taxes, if you’ve been paying any attention at all, is a relatively recent one in history. One I think has been entirely manufactured, but that’s a digression.

        That said, it bothers me that people will jump on an idea no one is proposing, that wifi is a public good. It’s almost as if there’s no need to spin the story to fit a political agenda, people are itching for the chance to spin it all by themselves. It bothers me a hell of lot more that people get the position wrong, rather than that they’re disagreeing with it. That’s what I’m really taking issue with so far.

        And for the record, but as an aside. I think access to information, and the Internet, should be a right. Or at very least, I see a world where it is a right as being better off than a world where it isn’t.

        • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

          “it’s up the people of the city to decide”

          Is it up to the people, or their elected officials? I mean, sure, if it were up to the people, let there be a referendum, and have it decided by a vote (which will have like 7000 people turn out anyway.)

          Otherwise, it’s up to the representatives.

        • SideshowCrono says:

          I am one of those people in the city. In fact, I could probably access the ‘free’ park wifi from my apartment. Meaning it it were actually ‘free’ then everyone in my building would just have the option of dropping our internet provider altogether.

          And you can’t have a referrendom on everything. Nothing would get done. This was just a renewal of a longstanding agreement with an extra perk thrown in. I highly doubt these companies will make much money off these services with a large chunk of people just using 3G equiped smartphones and laptops.

          AND, even if this was a service provided directly by the government I would still hope they would charge for it as its more fair that way. If you never use the park wifi you shouldnt be forced to pay for people who want to use this perk through taxes. The argument though that everyone is paying for this already because cable fees are higher is just not true. Having cable is a choice.

        • ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

          I like how a simple statement like “it’s up to the people of city to decide” automatically means I’m implying direct democracy. (Almost as if that would be a horrible thing.)

          No, it’s up to the people to decide, like we still live in some form of democracy. And were I live, the city council holds its meetings in the open, you know, where the public is at least invited to comment and express their concerns. You know, transparent government. But I guess that’s a terrible idea too. No we can’t have that, I mean, voters don’t need to know what the city government is up to. *Guffaw*

  21. SiD says:

    Something is better than nothing?
    I use my iPhone, problem solved.

  22. Mauvaise says:

    I would love to have public wi-fi available everywhere, but I would never expect it to be free. It costs money to set up stuff like that and maintain it, I don’t see why the people using it can’t help foot the bill. I think a dollar a day is more than reasonable.

    • coffeeplease says:

      We are already footing the bill by the city government allowing those cable providers a monopoly on the city. Again from the article:

      The money goes to Time Warner and Cablevision, who agreed to provide the wifi as part of the city agreeing to renew their cable-tv franchises for 10 years.

      I live in Brooklyn, I have time warner cable and high speed internet. We have 3 cable boxes, no premium channels. My cable bill just went up for the second year in a row. The new rate for all of that with Time Warner? $164.98 a month. I’m already paying for this “free” wi-fi in the parks and have been for years based on these rates.

      I’d rather let TWC build paid wi-fi in the parks and have the city NOT re-up their deal with Time Warner and maybe let me get cheaper cable.

      • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

        Yes, but people prefer having costs, monetary or otherwise, masked or defrayed by others.

        • coffeeplease says:

          I don’t even know what you’re yammering on about. This is a deal point in an agreement in exchange for allowing these providers to rake in even more revenue from NYC residents. Again, if that’s what the city negotiated then that’s what we should get.

          • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

            I’m not “yammering,” and you’re being rude. Please cool it.

            My point is that you said: “I’d rather let TWC build paid wi-fi in the parks and have the city NOT re-up their deal with Time Warner and maybe let me get cheaper cable.”

            But, people, generally, would prefer to NOT pay directly. They like “free” stuff, even if it costs more in taxes or the cost is higher down the line.

            We see this all the time, especially in social platforms.

            My point, and I guess I’m just an idiot yammering his yammy way to yammville, is that the “free lunch” aspect of this, with or without this terrible contract between the city and the companies, is not free. The contract costs REAL MONEY even if the “free wifi” goes up. YOU pay for it with more expensive cable, because of a sanctioned duopoly.

            Now, I may be yammeriffic in thinking this, but I would prefer that there be no contract, and have market prices for cable, with the prospect of paid-for wifi in parks. In the end, I believe that is probably going to be closer to Pareto optimal than this situation.

            But, I’m yammering, as usual. :-)

  23. Bill610 says:

    “There should be totally free wireless in the parks,” City Councilwoman Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) told New York Daily News, and might just as well have continued: “Also, there should be chocolate milk fountains that run hot in the winter and cold in the summer. It should only rain on weeknight evenings between the hours of 3 and 5 am, and those showers should be followed by a lovely rainbow, although it is still nighttime. The rainbow will be much prettier at night, don’t you think? Furthermore, anyone walking in the park should automatically be accompanied by a physically attractive, and intellectually engaging partner of their preferred gender.”

  24. mac-phisto says:

    this sounds wrong all around. specifically the part about closed-session negotiations that put billions of dollars in the pockets of two companies without proffering opportunities for competing providers.

    if you’re going to establish a pay-per system for wifi usage in the parks, there should be a bidding process in place – vendors typically need to go thru an open bidding process to offer their products or services on public land. the council could very well be giving away a massively lucrative vendor contract without reaping any sort of real benefit.

    i’d imagine there are some other providers out there that would love the opportunity to wifi a park for usage revenue. think about it: millions of people visit NYC’s park every month. it would only take a few thousand paying users to create a significant revenue stream. & the council’s just giving that away to the cable cos?

    who elected these yahoos?

  25. theSuperman says:

    I am assuming they will be tracking usage based on MAC address, which is so very easy to change.

    • f5alcon says:

      They could just require user accounts(so you can pay your 99 cents)

      Just wait until perverts start watching porn in the park.

  26. llcooljabe says:

    Everything in the world should be free! This is an outrage!

  27. Wireless Joe says:

    Or, you could just hang out in Times Square, any Starbucks, or anywhere else AT&T offers free wifi (if you’re a customer).

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      “AT&T offers free wifi (if you’re a customer).”

      Then it’s not really free, is it?

      • Wireless Joe says:

        Not “free” but also not “$0.99 per day more than you’re already paying for internet access”.

  28. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I think you should be required by law to disconnect in a park. Problem solved.

    Whyinthehell go to the park if you’re just going to surf the internet?

  29. ash says:

    Honestly, anyone who is willing to pay for 3 x 10 minute sessions will just choose to access wifi on their mobile device or just head to a place with free wifi (coffeehouse, etc)

  30. hugothebear says:

    You’re at a park. Get away from your office work.

  31. majortom1981 says:

    Keep in mind that these access points will be free to people who have cablevision and timewarner at home.

    So people who say have fios will have to pay.

  32. kc2idf says:

    Well, let’s see . . .

    There are 144 ten-minute periods in a day, making between 4032 and 4464 ten-minute periods in a month.

    There are 281,474,976,710,656 possible MAC addresses, which presumably would be how the users would be reliably tracked.

    I give the very active hackers in New York City about five minutes to script rotating random MAC addresses on some device or other.

  33. hugothebear says:

    Nothing is free. Either your taxes go up or Time Warner / Cablevision’s paying customers pay extra. I used to get wi-fi included when I was a Cablevision customer.

  34. El_Fez says:

    Please – people, it’s a freakin’ PARK! Do park things like run around or enjoy the sun or take a stroll with a love one or snap some photos or smell a flower or climb on the jungle gym! Do you really need to be connected to the internet EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF YOUR LIFE?!?

  35. xscarfaceloux says:

    As a Optimum Online user, I have free wi-fi with Cablevision where its available in NYC. Problem is, it sucks. You can connect one second, then take 3 steps and its unable to connect or just doesnt work. So if these cable companies cant get wifi working right for paying customers NOW… I find it hard to believe they’d be able to get it to work for everyone trying to use it in a NYC Park.

    While I don’t necessarily think WiFi should be free, I am totally against the fact that only TWC and Cablevision were able to participate. Why not take bids on contracts for companies that can concentrate on building a wifi network only and offer better deals?

    I cant stand the practice of giving all this business to cable companies, only for them to charge rates that are ridiculous for the content provided.

    And to the person who brags about paying $90 for 225 channels… how many do you actually watch? CHances are your paying $90 to watch like 20 channels…

  36. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    I’ll have to take a shower afterward, but I’m gonna channel my inner “conservative” here–how exactly is cable TV a “public good”?

    Also, the councilwoman’s argument is faulty–there is no such thing as “free” wi-fi–someone pays for it. Now, you could argue that since the city has given a monopoly on cable TV to the company, that they should provide no-user cost wi-fi with no strings attached, but that’s another argument.

    Someone please shoot me before I start quoting Rand Paul.

  37. VOIDMunashii says:

    This sounds like a really crappy deal for the people of New York.

  38. Woodside Park Bob says:

    So if you go to the park every day, you could end up paying $28.71 per month for this “free service.” Ridiculous. The city needs some new negotiators.

  39. Starfury says:

    How about no wi-fi in the park and just enjoy being outside and away from electronics.

    Just my .02

  40. x805x says:

    New York’s alright if you like saxophones.

  41. common_sense84 says:

    The sheer cost of administering the payments means there is no point in charging. This is a complete joke.