Good Move AT&T: Free WiFi in NYC Parks

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg announced today an agreement with AT&T to provide free public WiFi service for the next five years in 20 city parks.

They’ll soon be coverage in parts of Manhattan’s Central Park, in Battery Park, along the trendy High Line, and Tompkins Square Park.

Thank you AT&T and New York City. Now I can realize my dream of checking emails on a non-3G Android tablet while strolling in “The Ramble”.

Brooklyn residents will be able to connect with AT&T’s WiFi in Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, and Fort Greene Park.

On a related matter, their WiFi initiative takes some of the sting out of one of Sprint’s criticisms in its lengthy petition to deny the T-Mobile acquisition.

A major theme in Sprint’s FCC filing is that AT&T doesn’t need T-Mobile to alleviate its alleged network capacity constraint issues.

And a minor point is that even with its over 24,000 hotspots, very little of AT&T’s total data traffic has been off-loaded “via efficient and low-cost WiFi networks.” Sprint continues this line of attack by pointing out that AT&T has also done little in the way of increasing in-building or in-home WiFi coverage.

Last year, to their credit, they began to offer free WiFi service in Manhattan’s Times Square to its own customers. But that’s a drop in the bit bucket.

For AT&T, WiFi is merely a line-item in their marketing and PR budgets. Which is not to say I’m not appreciative of this new service in city parks and their nationwide agreement with Starbucks.

But I think I’m with Sprint on this one: if AT&T really wanted to reduce congestion in dense urban settings, there’s a lot more they could do with 802.11.

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