Verizon Kills Free NYC WiFi

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Verizon Communications is pulling the plug on WiFi phone booths in New York City.

The WiFi Phone Booths were available free for Verizon’s DSL subscribers. Hundreds of short-range Wi-Fi transmitters were installed in public pay phone booths starting in May 2003 but the free service will be phased out over the next two months.

Verizon will put its money into the fee-based EV-DO cellular service, instead.

Verizon, which owns Verizon Wireless in partnership with Britain’s Vodafone Group PLC, has spent $138 million so far this year upgrading its cellular network for EV-DO in the New York after a $475 million investment in 2004.

There are currently about 380 Wi-Fi hot spots providing the free service from Verizon phone booths, nearly all of them in Manhattan with a few in Brooklyn. The first to be turned off will be those that are least used, spokeswoman Bobbi Henson said Thursday.

“The usage level is not enough to justify continuing it when there are other options. A lot has changed over the past two years in terms of wireless access,” said Henson. “Everybody’s trying to look for a business model around (Wi-Fi)…. But the better business model in our mind is the EV-DO network.”

Verizon successfully pushed an anti-municipal WiFi laws in Pennsylvania late last year.

Bills restricting municipal wireless nets are pending in eighteen states – and the ensuing furore, fuelled by blogs like Muniwireless have made sure everyone is aware of the issue.

Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania , and other state legistlatures have worked with large telecos like Verizon to prevent free WiFi from developing in some 600 municipal networks.

Tempe, Arizona is one of the latest city-wide wifi networks. MobilePro will run the network which uses Strix Systems mesh gear throughout the city. Reports indicate that monthly subscriptions will cost $20 for dial-up speed and $30 to $40 for high-speed wireless access. The complete 40-square-mile area of Tempe, reaching more than 65,000 households, 1,100 businesses, 50,000 students and hundreds of thousands of annual visitors.

The agreement between the City of Tempe and MobilePro calls for a tandem network running on a municipal frequency (4.9GHz) to be deployed on the same infrastructure as the Public network. This second, FCC licensed, network will be used by municipal workers to enhance their ability to provide services in the community.

Posted by Sam Churchill on Friday, April 29th, 2005 at 1:53 am .

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