In his final weeks as New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg today announced that Harlem will soon be the home of the largest public Wi-Fi network in the US. The network will extend a whopping 95 blocks, and will provide free wireless internet to the neighborhood's 80,000 residents — and the crop of businesspeople the mayor hopes to attract.
Bloomberg, ever a champion of the city's tech sector, said the network will bring critical connectivity to residents, visitors, and businesses in the area, as well as to the 13,000 people living in low-income housing there. With it will come unlimited 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." The rollout will be done in three phases and the first is already underway, with the city aiming for May 2014 to complete the project.
Harlem is open for business
The initiative is only the latest to bring wireless internet access to New Yorkers. The city teamed up with Transit Wireless in April to provide Wi-Fi in 30 subway stops. However, this announcement is significant because it's the first major development in Bloomberg's plan to provide connectivity to prospective entrepreneurs looking to settle in the city. As the mayor said earlier this fall, "If New York City is going remain competitive in the global economy, we must find ways to support the entrepreneurs who are driving technological advances and creating jobs." Harlem may look rather attractive from a business standpoint come 2014.