NYCwireless posts response to NY Parks RFI

NYCwireless, a non-profit organization founded in 2001 that enables free, public Wi-Fi access, has posted its response to the NY Parks RFI. Here is an excerpt from their response concerning the city’s unwise insistence on funding the network through advertising:

NYCwireless fundamentally believes and the industry has seen countless times (including the companies MetroFi and EarthLink, and cities San Francisco and Portland, for example) that Ad-based business models are unsustainable for individual hotspots and even reasonable sized  networks. If DoITT and the City want to really ensure that free public Wi-Fi should be made available, and that locations other than the most highly trafficked and well-to-do are served, they need to step up and offer alternative funding models.

One thing to consider is that the companies that can do the installation and maintenance of high-quality outdoor hotspots (there are few) don’t have big advertising or sales teams to make them self-funding. These are two orthogonal specialties and forcing a single company to be capable of both severely limits the applicant pool and threatens the business viability of any participating company.  has been successful because we provide all of the back-end technical know how and support for free public Wi-Fi hotspots. We are paid by our partners (BIDs and others) to perform this service, and they do the money raising since that’s what they are good at.

If DoITT and the NYC Government insist on Ad-based models, the best way to organize the funding of the organizations that build hotspots is to separately manage the sales of ads or sponsorship through either a centralized City agency or through a separate RFP that would be awarded to a marketing or ad-sales company. Hotspots would be required to use standard, open-source and free technology for displaying ads sold through the agency in order to receive funding through the RFP program.

You can view their response on the NYCwireless website.

Related stories:

NYC responds to questions regarding Wi-Fi public tender

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

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Comments

  1. Brett Glass says

    The City is apparently proposing that providers operate the network with no public subsidy. This is doomed to failure, as it has been in other cities. Bandwidth hogs love these open, public networks; they freeload on them 24×7. And bandwidth costs money — too much for a few quick (and easily filtered) ads to cover. If the City won’t use tax dollars to pay for this service, it should not expect the effort to succeed.

    It’s best to leave the provision of Internet service to private enterprise.