By Jill Colvin
EAST HARLEM — Forget working in the office.
Battery Park and Thomas Jefferson Park in East Harlem have become the city's newest wireless hotspots in a city-led effort to bring fast, free WiFi to parks across Manhattan.
WiFi will also be rolled out throughout the summer to a handful of other green spaces, including multiple areas of Central Park, the newly expanded High Line, Tompkins Square Park, Marcus Garvey Park and Holcombe Rucker Park uptown.
"The service is completely free. F-R-E-E," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who began a press conference announcing the launch by connecting to the now up-and-running network in Thomas Jefferson Park.
"It could not be easier or more convenient," he beamed.
The services is being provided by AT&T and will be completely free for all users, regardless of whether they’re customers.
The service works just like the one in Starbucks. Users can connect to the "attwifi" network by selecting the network and then clicking a box agreeing to the company’s terns and conditions. No user name or password are needed, and there are no limits on use.
"What this project does is make these great public spaces even more relevant," AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said.
In addition to working outdoors and letting users upload photos on the go, officials said they hope free access in more city parks will help to close the so-called "digital divide" between New Yorkers.
"We are ... breaking new ground in providing technology that was previously unavailable to low-income and working families in East Harlem," Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez said. "It really provides access that did not exist."
While not every square foot of every park on the list will be covered, Stephenson said the coverage will be "broad," and that hot spots will be marked with signs.
The mayor acknowledged that previous efforts to roll out wireless across the city "did not meet expectations." But officials said the current plan is better financed, with better-quality equipment and more mature technology they are confident will work.
"I think you’re going to find it to be very reliable and very dependable," Stephenson said.
Free WiFi is already available in numerous public spaces across Manhattan, from Times Square to City Hall, but coverage is often spotty and slow.
Service in both new locations was working very well Thursday afternoon.