Wi-Fi in Central Park?

New York says it will happen by July, but contractor appears to be dragging his feet. In any case, the city seems to have learned a lesson.

There will be Wi-Fi in Central Park by July, if city officials have their way, the New York Times reports. The city's Dept. of Parks and Recreation set the deadline for its contractor, Wi-Fi Salon, at a City Council meeting.

The contractor, however, is not so sure.

Asked about the deadlines, Marshall W. Brown, the owner of Wi-Fi Salon, said: "That's the timetable set forth by Parks. Let's see if that's attainable." Later he added, "It's obviously going to be tight, but I'm confident we'll be able to pull it off."

If he can't, the city may choose another contractor. The move is really the first glimmer of any interest substantial interest in municipal Wi-Fi in New York. The problem seems to be that the contract with Wi-Fi Salon calls for the city to make money, as much as $30,000 a year.

But since reaching the deal with Mr. Brown, the city has all but abandoned that model for future wireless contracts. In a new request for proposals in February, the city asked for bids to create wireless networks in additional parks — with almost no revenue for the city.

For instance, it has selected a partnership of the Friends of Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and NYC Wireless to create a network in the plaza, which is near the United Nations. The partnership will pay the city $1 a year.

Expert Communications/TravelNet Technologies, a Long Island company, has been chosen to build networks at the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and at Columbus Park in Downtown Brooklyn. The city expects to receive just $700 a year for each site.

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