New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with Sen. Charles Schumer (left) and Google Chief Information Officer Ben Fried (right), unveiled a free public Wi-Fi service for the Chelsea neighborhood of New York.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)
Google's ambitions to wire the world are expanding. The company announced on Tuesday that it will provide free Wi-Fi service to Chelsea, a New York City neighborhood where Google has its local headquarters.
In a joint press conference with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York Senator Charles Schumer, Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) said it hoped to keep the tens of thousands of residents, and millions of tourists, in the area connected at all times when they're outdoors. Google also will be providing indoor coverage for public housing units in the area.
The announcement comes at a time when Google's broadband offerings are being closely tracked by both citizens and politicians eager for tech infrastructure upgrades. The company recently brought high-speed fiber-optic Internet coverage to the Kansas City area, capable of download speeds up to 1 Gigabit per second. That's about 200 times faster than your average home broadband connection.
Tired of slow Internet speeds, high costs and few choices in providers, Americans have been eagerly watching for any hints that Google would expand its fiber offering to their hometowns.
Google's Wi-Fi has impressive speeds of its own -- about 5 to 10 Megabits per second, or around the same as a typical home Internet connection. But Ben Fried, Google's chief information officer, said in unequivocal terms that the Wi-Fi offering is not a harbinger of bigger things to come for New Yorkers.
"This has no relation to Google Fiber," Fried said. "We're citzens of this community, and we felt that it was important to contribute."
GOOGLE, HELPING THE COMMUNITY.