NEW YORK (AFP) - A Manhattan neighborhood has become the first in New York to have totally free outdoor wireless Internet access, courtesy of Internet giant Google.
"All you need is a laptop or smartphone or other wireless-enabled device and a web browser to get online," Google's chief information officer Ben Fried said at a press conference announcing the free Internet access, which covers about 20 city blocks in the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan.
The neighbourhood is where Google has a large corporate presence, making it a logical place for the massive free Internet hotspot for New Yorkers toting WiFi-ready devices.
"New York is the second largest Google office in the world," said Mr Fried, flanked by city Mayor Michael Bloomberg and US Senator Chuck Schumer.
"This neighbourhood can now claim to be the first in Manhattan with totally free outdoor WiFi," Mr Bloomberg said, adding that he hopes New York will dislodge California's Silicon Valley one day to become "tech centre of the world." More than 100,000 of Google's immediate neighbors will enjoy the free WiFi, in addition to thousands of daily visitors to the neighbourhood.
Mr Bloomberg noted that there are already about 20 city parks that enjoy free Internet access, and said the service would be extended to 32 others by September.