UNION SQUARE — The free Wi-Fi in Union Square will be expanded to serve thousands of users thanks to a major expansion including new antennas.
The Union Square Partnership has secured a new Wi-Fi service vendor and three new antennas that will be able to handle 3,000 users at once by the beginning of June, as opposed to the 250 it served before, said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the partnership.
Two of the new antennas have already been installed, and as many as 2,500 users have logged on at once during a recent peak period, Falk said.
“We installed the current system in late 2008, early 2009,” Falk said. “At the time, it was considered one of the more robust systems in the country, but with the surge of personal devices like phones and tablets, it’s put an increased burden on the system.”
Before the upgrade, the park was using two Wi-Fi antennas located at the north and south ends of the park. Now, the partnership is replacing the two antennas and adding a new one at 18th Street and Broadway, near the pedestrian plaza.
The new service vendor, Sky Packets, currently manages the Wi-Fi system in Bryant Park, Falk said. The Wi-Fi will continue to be free of charge to guests after the upgrade.
A sponsorship from Beth Israel Medical Center funded the new Union Square service.
Park users will find stronger service around the perimeter of the park, rather than under the tree canopies at its center, Falk said.
In addition, the new Wi-Fi service will be strong enough to serve users in surrounding restaurants such as Coffee Shop, Republic and Heartland Brewery, which are all located on the west side of the park, Falk said.
“The free Wi-Fi is an important part of enhancing park users' experience when they visit," she said. "We’re hoping they’ll enjoy the new system.”