CBS turns on free Wi-Fi for Midtown Manhattan

CBS Corporation announced today that it will “light up” midtown Manhattan with the creation of the “CBS Mobile Zone,” a wireless high-speed network enabling New Yorkers with Wi-Fi-enabled cell phones, laptops or other devices to access the Internet for free, and make voice over internet calls. The Wi-Fi HotZone, which is available today in certain areas, will be fully operational on by month’s end with a footprint of more than 20 city blocks from Times Square to Central Park South and from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue. This initiative is part of a 6-month pilot program with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit to test the potential communications capabilities of Wi-Fi technology.

New Yorkers who access the “CBS Mobile Zone,” will be greeted by an ad-supported homepage that includes hyperlocal content such as breaking local and national news, sports highlights, weather reports, music discovery, wallpapers, ringtones, maps, a social network and the ability to search for nearby restaurants, shops and entertainment complete with geographically- targeted community reviews. Citi and have signed on to be early sponsors of the Wi-Fi HotZone.

“We are pleased to deliver what may be the most advanced wireless and pre-WiMax, outdoor offering of it’s kind in the U.S.,” said Cyriac Roeding, Executive Vice President, CBS Mobile. “Whether it’s surfing the web on your laptop from a park bench, receiving breaking news, sports scores, locating the closest recommended pizza shop or calling your friend for free via your Wi-Fi-enabled phone, we believe we’re offering something helpful to all New Yorkers. Thanks to the extraordinary capabilities of our partners the whole project took less than six months to complete and was highly cost effective.”

“This is another example of how the assets of CBS Outdoor are enhanced by new technologies,” said Wally Kelly, Chairman and CEO of CBS Outdoor. “What better way to show we are committed to turning our Outdoor assets into next-generation interactive platforms than providing free Wi-Fi service in what is arguably the busiest stretch of real estate in the world. This offering will allow us to evaluate the prospect of applying Wi-Fi capabilities across our Outdoor properties globally.”

The “CBS Mobile Zone,” will be powered by CBS Outdoor billboards and MTA New York City Transit-owned urban panels located above select subway station entrances that have been fitted with transmitters in a joint initiative between CBS Interactive and CBS Outdoor. In addition, many local businesses will be offered free routers allowing companies and patrons to tap into the “CBS Mobile Zone” from indoors. In launching this first-of-its-kind Wi-Fi network, CBS partnered with the MTA New York City Transit and several next-generation companies including Tropos, BIG, Fon, Ning, Goowy, Veoh, Yelp, 1020, Aptilo and Can-Do Entertainment, with more to be added throughout the duration of the midtown offering. The “CBS Mobile Zone” also provides interactive advertising opportunities that can be localized down to the individual billboard.


  1. Funny how first thoughts related to Manhattan are being mugged in the street… Not many are aware that New York City dropped off the top 50 cities in the US by crime rate (quite some time ago, actually, and hasn’t re-appeared on that list since). Incidentally, higher on that list are places such as Omaha, Nebraska; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tucson, Arizona; Fresno, California… And you don’t hear stories about street mugging in Omaha, do you…?

    As for the wifi ‘cloud’ over midtown Manhattan, nice going; although, to put it in prespective, this 20-block coverage will do little for vast majority of people who live and/or work elsewhere. If they could have only extended it just three blocks north (i.e. into the Central Park), it would have made a difference to many, if nothing, at least on weekends.

    Still, it’s nice to know it’s there. Most Broadway theatres are in the coverage zone, as well as some well-known landmarks (Rockefeller Centre, Carnegie Hall, etc).

  2. @Vista – an Apple marketing tool

    Have you ever been to NY? You don’t just get mugged in the middle of the day because you have your laptop out… it’s so funny how people have these preconceived notions about a particular city. Don’t speak unless you know what you’re talking about.

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