Harlem is going to be home to the nation’s largest, continuous, free public WiFi network covering 95 city blocks and give 80,000 residents Internet access.
The Harlem WiFi network will extend from 110th to 138th streets between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Madison Avenue. The network, which will be rolled out in three phases in coordination with the city’s Technology Development Corporation and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, will increase digital access for approximately 80,000 Harlem residents, including 13,000 public housing residents, as well as businesses and visitors in the area.
The free public network will serve the community for an initial five-year term and is funded through a generous donation from the Fuhrman Family Foundation to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. The first phase, extending from 110th to 120th streets between Madison Avenue and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, is underway and the remaining phases will be complete by May 2014.
“Our new Harlem wireless network brings critical connectivity to residents and visitors, giving them 24/7 access to everything from education materials for kids, to information about Harlem’s rich history and attractions, to everyday needs like paying bills, checking library hours or even just keeping tabs on the Knicks and Nets,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “In 2013, being successful requires being connected. Thanks to the Furman Family Foundation and the Mayor’s Fund, we are wiring nearly 100 blocks in Harlem and giving 80,000 New Yorkers another tool for success.”
The Harlem WiFi network will provide a fast Internet connection to portable devices completely free of charge. The network will be available 24/7 in outdoor locations within the zone, providing unlimited access.
“As more than 13,000 public housing residents will benefit from having access to free WiFi, this will be a big boost in helping our residents bridge the digital divide,” said NYCHA Chairman John Rhea. “We greatly appreciate the efforts of the Mayor’s Fund for NY, along with Sky Packets and the Furman Foundation, in providing this service, as well as the very able collaboration of the Harlem Children’s Zone in helping to spread the word of the free WiFi availability.”
The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications and the Technology Development Corporation are overseeing the WiFi network’s implementation working closely with technology provider, Sky-Packets. The first phase is already completed with free WiFi available from 110th to 120th Street, between Madison Avenue & Frederick Douglass Blvd.
In addition to the phased WiFi implementation, Harlem Children’s Zone (HCZ) will be increasing awareness and network use among Harlem residents, businesses, and visitors. As part of this education and outreach process, Harlem Children’s Zone’s high school students are engaged in a contest to develop a name and logo for the network later this month.
“Today, being connected to the world and being competitive in the global marketplace means access to the Internet, which is essential to evening the digital playing field for our kids,” said President and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, Geoffrey Canada.