CBS Unwires Manhattan With Wi-Fi

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An experiment by CBS enables people with Wi-Fi-capable devices to access the Internet for free, at 5Mbps speeds, as the network tries out a wireless initiative in the Big Apple.

CBS Unwires Manhattan With Wi-Fi
CBS Unwires Manhattan With Wi-Fi

CBS has been the most aggressive of the major broadcast networks in trying to associate itself closely with the prospects of the Internet. The network announced today they would deploy a Wi-Fi HotZone called the "CBS Mobile Zone" through midtown Manhattan.

This will be part of a joint experiment in the six-month pilot program CBS has running with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit. They hope to determine how effectively communications over Wi-Fi will work throughout the area.

One might have expected Google to be part of such a project, considering its previous dalliances with Wi-Fi in its hometown, and past projects with CBS. But there’s no mention of the dominant search advertising company, or any other search company, as CBS holds this effort as closely as possible.

They do have several Web 2.0 names taking part, with Tropos, BIG, Fon, Ning, Goowy, Veoh, Yelp, 1020, Aptilo and Can-Do Entertainment all named in a statement from the network, with plans to add more.

A CBS spokesperson said the network will provide connection speeds topping out at 5Mbps. Connections through the network will support VoIP as well as Internet access.

Their initiative coordinates CBS properties in a sophisticated way. Transmitters will be placed on billboards operated by CBS Outdoor, and on panels above subway entrances within the coverage area. They also plan to offer free Wi-Fi routers to local businesses, so they can offer access to customers and staff.

Monetization potential also looks promising, in a "Minority Report" way. CBS touted its interactive advertising as something they can target to individual billboards within the Zone. Financial giant Citi, and Salesgenie.com, have signed on as initial sponsors.

CBS also promoted the "hyperlocal" focus of the Mobile Zone’s ad-supported homepage, where people will see news, sports, weather, and other information. They also plan to have a social network as part of it, and the ability to search for nearby restaurants, shops, and entertainment, with accompanying reviews from Yelp.

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