NYC issues RFI for free Wi-Fi service in parks and public areas

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking responses from service providers regarding the provision of Wi-Fi or other comparable wireless Internet service in designated parks and other open spaces. The deadline for submissions is 12 June 2009. Eight parks used to have Wi-Fi service (delivered by WiFi Salon), but the latter closed down, leaving no one to deliver the service. That’s why the city has issued this RFI. Unfortunately, the city does not want to pay any money to the service provider even though it believes that free Wi-Fi is a valuable amenity that many people demand in public areas and parks. The city’s RFI mentions use of the advertising model as a viable option for a provider. But as we have seen with EarthLink and MetroFi, it’s nearly impossible to make money delivering free Wi-Fi using only an advertising model. I could see a large consumer goods company providing free Wi-Fi, flashing ads to users, but most companies today have cut back on their ad budgets.

Dana Spiegel has written a good analysis of the pros and cons of this RFI.

Download the RFI from here.

Go to the NYC website for more information and to register to bid:

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