Free WiFi Provider in NYC Shuts Down

January 7th, 2009 at 12:00 am

wifi salon

Free WiFi access in NYC is another step nearer to extinction.  WiFi Salon, which won the contract from the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation in 2004 to wire 10 parks in four boroughs, including Central Park, quietly shutdown in October due to lack of financing and is in the process of removing equipment.

Apparently, and obviously, free WiFi is not feasible.  “We didn’t have the sponsor to pay to continue the network. It was too costly,” said Marshall Brown, WiFi Salon’s founder. “It is tough to find the means to build it out when the city is in budgetary straits, and Wall Street has evaporated.”

Operating a WiFi network in an area as large as Central Park is no joke.  Brown says it would have taken $400,000 to $500,000 to maintain the parks’ Wi-Fi network. The company had struggled to find financial backing for the networks from the start. When WiFi Salon launched its first network in Battery Park in June 2005, Brown said the company had to eat the $200,000 expense.

Well, it’s another casualty of the financial meltdown and soon more and more free services will fold, cheap services will jack up their prices and the consumers will spend less or a whole lot more if they can.

On the bright side, there are still those who offer free outdoor WiFi.  NYCWireless,  a nonprofit that works with other local community groups to run free Wi-Fi hotspots around Manhattan says, “New York City lost a great resource in WiFi Salon.”  Yet they as an organizationwill not stop yet.