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Free WiFi Coming to Tompkins Square

Locals will soon be able to surf the web while lounging in Tompkins Square Park, thanks to a new initiative that will install free Wi-Fi service at 20 city parks. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the measure at a news conference at Battery Park today alongside executives from AT&T, which will administer the service. The free wireless signal for smartphones, tablets and old-fashioned computers will be available in Tompkins Square Park by the end of the summer, according to Mr. Bloomberg.—Stephen Rex Brown

Coffee Shops Ponder Life Without WiFi

IMG_4093Claire Glass Coffee shop owners wonder if eliminating free WiFi access can reduce scenes like this, at Ninth Street Espresso, and improve their bottom lines.

When we East Villagers head to the coffee shop we claim the table, the nook, and the dent in the sofa as our own for hours on end because, well, it seldom costs more than the price of a cup of Joe. And what keeps us there? Often it’s the free WiFi.

But now local coffee purveyors are starting to re-think WiFi because offering unlimited access in exchange for a $3 cup of coffee draws enough Web-hungry customers to threaten their shops’ vibes and, sometimes, their bottom lines.

“It was a question of managing the Internet,” said Aaron Hagedorn, co-owner of Ost, a shop at 12th Street and Avenue A, explaining why he and his partner adopted a no-computer policy after 7 p.m. and eliminated WiFi after 11 a.m. on weekends at the start of the summer. “And we had to do just that — manage it — all the time. It would have been hard to stay in business if we didn’t.”

Not everyone was thrilled with the compromise.

“I don’t know how you can disconnect the use of Internet and coffee shops,” Ost customer Braden Smith said while enjoying an espresso. “They’ve always been places where you come and sit to work for hours.”
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