In New York, Downturn Kills Free W-Fi

[qi:___wifi] New Yorkers, long used to getting free Wi-Fi Internet access in some of their bigger parks, will no longer enjoy the connectivity. WiFi Salon, a company that was offering free Wi-Fi in 10 parts of four New York City boroughs, shut down because of a lack of financing. The city is in budgetary doldrums and didn’t want to spend any money on free services. Marshall Brown, WiFi Salon’s founder, hasn’t given up on the dream and started a new company called Wired Towns that offers free Wi-Fi in partnership with Business Improvement Districts. Union Square is already up and running. Bryant Park still has a functioning (and free) Wi-Fi network. Glenn Fleishman, the Wi-Fi guru, shares his views and ponders on why the service got shut down.

The New York situation is not unique. Across the country, the aftershocks of the credit crunch are impacting municipal broadband projects. City- or municipality-wide broadband efforts depended on cities’ ability to sell bond to fund these projects. The booming economy allowed cities to garner extra tax revenues, which allowed them to easily raise the bonds to raise funds to spend on various projects — including MuniFi.