The company operating Wi-Fi in some New York parks is closing down: Eagle-eyed correspondent Klaus Ernst noted that the Wi-Fi in the parks project has shut down. Wi-Fi Salon, the concessionaire for most of the major parks, posted a message about the current economic conditions, but the note is undated.
I was always dubious about Wi-Fi Salon due to the surreal technical explanations made by its founder, its small size and lack of real-world experience, and the extensive delays in every step of the project. Ultimately, something closer to kiosks than coverage were erected, and I’ve never seen any usage numbers.
Community Wi-Fi organizers in New York City had a variety of other ideas about how to offer free Wi-Fi, but parks had its own agenda. Let’s see if they approach this differently this time around.
Update: Marshall Brown, Wi-Fi Salon’s founder, takes issue with my characterization of his operations. No one–especially me–ever claimed that building outdoor networks was easy. From all that’s happened in the last few years, it’s clear that building large, sustainable, free (sponsored or otherwise) networks requires many stakeholders, a diverse revenue stream, and real purposes for a network beyond public access.
Crain’s reports on the issue: Possibly prompted by my post (or by Brown’s outrage), Crain’s New York Business writes about the shut down and Brown’s new project, which has put Wi-Fi into Union Square. Brown’s new venture, Wired Towns, is talking to business improvement districts about outdoor Wi-Fi across New York City.
Yet another update: Sewell Chan of the New York Times provides more details about the timeline involved.