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NYC Adds 32 Parks to WiFi System in Deal With Cable Companies

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July 16 (Bloomberg) -- New York City added 32 parks to a growing system of wireless Internet access as part of a deal with its two cable-television providers.

WiFi service for users of smartphones, tablets, laptops and other mobile devices will be free for broadband customers of Cablevision Systems Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc., Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Bright House Networks LLC, city officials said. Those without those services can get free WiFi for 10 minutes three times a month, or can to buy it for 99 cents per day for one device.

“This initiative expands WiFi service to millions of New Yorkers and visitors in some of our city’s most beautiful and historic sites,” Rahul Merchant, the city’s chief information and innovation officer, said in a news release.

The service is part of the city’s 2011 franchise agreement with New York-based Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable provider, and Bethpage, New York-based Cablevision, the fifth largest. As part of the contract, the companies agreed to maintain the city’s WiFi system through 2020 in parks and public spaces, mostly outside Manhattan. The cable providers created a $10 million fund to pay for it, according to the city.

The sites include Manhattan’s Bryant, Madison Square and Riverside parks. Central Park already has WiFi near the zoo, Tavern on the Green and Mineral Springs north of the Sheep Meadow. Mobile devices can also access Internet service on the High Line on the West Side.

In Brooklyn, hotspots will be located in Coney Island’s Steeplechase Park and in Manhattan Beach and Gravesend Park, among other places. A full list is available on the Parks Department website, www.nyc.gov/parkswifi.

The new deal brings the total number of parks equipped with WiFi to 51, according to the Parks Department website.

The parks and information-technology departments are part of the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, founder and chairman of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Goldman in New York at hgoldman@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at smerelman@bloomberg.net