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New outdoor Wi-Fi networks expanded by Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to include NYCHA

March 30, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership will provide free Wi-Fi in the outdoor areas of NYCHA’s Ingersoll Houses in Downtown Brooklyn (shown above.) Eagle file photo by Sarah Ryley
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The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership on Wednesday announced plans to provide free Wi-Fi access in the outdoor areas of New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Whitman and Ingersoll Houses in Downtown Brooklyn. 

Twenty-six access points are currently being installed at Whitman and Ingersoll. The program will make Wi-Fi available in outdoor public open spaces including seating areas, basketball courts and playgrounds, along with NYCHA-owned retail, and on Myrtle Avenue.  

The Downtown Brooklyn Wi-Fi Partnership advances the OneNYC goal of covering a critical mass of the city’s public spaces with free Wi-Fi, and will help NYCHA achieve the NextGeneration goal of creating more connected communities for all residents. 

“Once again, Downtown Brooklyn is leading the way as a true live-work central business district,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “Our NYCHA expansion will allow us to provide a critical amenity to one of our largest population centers. We’re grateful to our partners on this initiative and are thrilled to offer service for more Downtown residents.” 

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Maya Wiley, counsel to the Mayor, noted that “Public Wi-Fi is vital for New Yorkers who rely on their mobile phones but may not be able to afford unlimited data plans. This expansion will bring the free service right to the doorstep of thousands of NYCHA residents in Downtown Brooklyn, ensuring they are connected to their neighborhood and to all that the digital world has to offer.” 

“Internet access is crucial to success in the 21st century,” added NYCHA Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye. “Thanks to this innovative collaboration, we are bringing NYCHA residents Wi-Fi services that will improve quality of life and economic futures.”

NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer also praised the plan. “Reliable high-speed broadband is vital to a 21st-century economy,” she said. “Providing free public Wi-Fi access to New Yorkers across the five boroughs is a central component of Mayor de Blasio’s plan for one, equitable, New York.”

“As technology continues to advance, there are several communities that remain disconnected,” said Councilmember Laurie A. Cumbo. “I applaud the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and its partners for enabling the residents of the Raymond V. Ingersoll and Walt Whitman Houses to access the Internet at their leisure and within their own communities.”

Shirley A. McRae, chairperson of Community Board 2, said that “fast, reliable connectivity is a vital resource for the future of our neighborhood. This initiative is a welcome development and we applaud the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and its partners at EDC and NYCHA for making this idea a reality.”

The project is an expansion of the Downtown Brooklyn Wi-Fi Network — a collaboration between the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Pacific Telemanagement Services (PTS), DAS Communications, Towerstream, the New York City Economic Development Corporation and NYCHA.

In 2013, the city awarded the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership $163,000 to build out a wireless corridor. Launched in 2014, Towerstream and PTS built and maintain the network, while Towerstream provides broadband service. Construction was funded in part by an NYCEDC grant as part of its Wireless Corridor Challenge — an initiative to expand wireless and broadband connectivity across all five boroughs. 

The program has been tremendously successful. In 2015, there were more than 500,000 individual sessions on the network and those numbers are projected to grow into 2016. To date, there are more than 110 wireless access points installed throughout Downtown Brooklyn. The partnership opened the first section of the network on the Fulton Mall in 2014.

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