The Internet: Coming soon to 125th Street.
Thanks to the Wireless Corridor Challenge, 10 business districts throughout the city will receive free Wi-Fi, including 125th Street from Broadway to Second Avenue. Installation is scheduled for completion by December.
“It’s a critical step in attracting new businesses, increasing foot traffic and marketing within the 125th Street business district,” Barbara Askins, president of the 125th Street Business Improvement District, said in an email. “We will be leading the way in connecting residents and visitors with our commercial district, improving quality of life, and bridging the digital divide.”
The mayor’s office announced the initiative on Monday.
The service on 125th Street will be run by GOWEX, a Spanish telecommunications company that already operates 2,000 wireless hot spots throughout the city. GOWEX is one of five organizations, ranging from business alliances to academic institutions, selected by the New York Economic Development Corporation that will be responsible for installing and operating the networks.
Although many people think the installation of Wi-Fi is a good idea, some are concerned about privacy.
“I think it’s a great idea, as long as they’re providing an appropriate amount of security,” John Whitehead, a Harlem resident, said. “‘Free’ always comes at a price.”
Though he said Wi-Fi could make life on the go much easier, he is concerned that the service providers might hand over information to government agencies.
Others said that they were concerned that the Wi-Fi would encourage pedestrians to use the Internet on their phones, distracting them from the traffic on the congested street.
“It’s a distraction to be utilizing your phone on this street,” Josette Ceruti, another Harlem resident, said. “There’s too much going on.”
Ceruti said that she likes the idea but is concerned about people losing focus of their surroundings and becoming targets for pickpockets.
LaShawn Hunter, who had no objections to the plan, said, “Any way you can upgrade the neighborhood is fine with me.”