NY Public Library rents out 10,000 mobile Wi-Fi routers for free

The New York Public Library (NYPL) will be renting out 10,000 Sprint mobile Wi-Fi routers for free, according to the Wall Street Journal. The program is funded by a $1 million donation from Google. This is the latest initiative in New York to provide broadband to people who cannot afford a cable or DSL Internet subscription at home. It beats standing outside in the rain, humidity and cold beside an outdoor Wi-Fi access point trying to get a signal.

I think this is an excellent idea since the program targets the people who cannot afford a home broadband subscription. Now I wish tourists could rent these mobile Wi-Fi access points from the NYPL, too.

nypl rents spring mobile routers

Mobile Wi-Fi routers are very popular in Japan (with tourists and residents)

My experience using a mobile Wi-Fi router is a positive one. I spent a month in Japan this year and rented a Softbank mobile Wi-Fi router even though the apartments and hotels I stayed in all had Wi-Fi. The reason is I would be on the road for part of the time and I needed to have access to Waze (the driving app) and Google Maps, plus various websites for finding addresses and phone numbers. I decided not to get a prepaid SIM card this time because I did not want to be worrying about exceeding the data limit on a traditional SIM card data plan. If I needed to call someone on the Nexus phone, I would use Skype.

I was more than pleased with the bandwidth of the Softbank mobile Wi-Fi router. I would put it in my bag, carry it around and use it with my Nexus phone and sometimes with my iPad. It’s quite fast. Indeed, many people who rent their apartments in Tokyo and Kyoto to visitors, provide mobile Wi-Fi routers, instead of a traditional Wi-Fi home broadband service. It’s fast enough for browsing websites and doing email and you can bring it along with you wherever you go.

softbank wifi router

The Softbank mobile Wi-Fi router I rented in Japan for a month

NOTE: You can rent the Softbank mobile Wi-Fi router at Haneda and Narita airports, and at Softbank stores in Japan. If you rent it from the airport, it’s quite expensive. There are other cheaper ways to rent a mobile Wi-Fi router in Japan.