So, I was in the back of a taxi this evening coming up Amsterdam Avenue, and at 72nd Street, I decided to open up my laptop and see how many wireless access points were visible along my trip. Between there and 120th Street, I picked up 180 WiFi nodes; only 48 of them (27%) were WEP-protected. Of course, there’s no telling how many of them were willing to dole out an address to me, nor how many of them had filters preventing random computers from connecting, but that’s still damn impressive, and way more access points than I would have thought I’d see. There were plenty of interesting nodes, too: a bunch for Columbia University, one at St. John the Divine, one in a New York City Housing Authority building, two NYCwireless nodes, and one beaming out the bedroom window of a certain Filipino broad. There were also a dozen or more powerful nodes named TBA; I wonder if there’s a wireless project in the planning.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking to cop some free wireless access in New York City, I’m pretty sure that you can just set up shop at any of the sidewalk cafes along Amsterdam Avenue and surf away!

Comments and TrackBacks…

• Pinged by anil dash's daily links on Apr 9, 2003, 11:12 PM

My wireless router’s reputation precedes my own! My wifi router lives in my eighth floor dorm room on Amsterdam between 115th and 116th.

Since I’m only marginally within the University bandwidth use policy, I have secured it, but a firmware shortcoming insistently broadcasts the SSID. Not too much harm in that I suppose…

I visited a while back for some forgotten reason. Now, courtesy of Anil Dash, I have become aware of the kinship I share with the man behind it.

• Posted by: Peter Schwartz on Apr 10, 2003, 3:36 AM

On my most recent trip to the airport I discovered right before I left my apartment that my cable modem braadband was down, so I was unable to download my email. On the trip between west midtown and the midtown tunnel, I was able to download my email using 3-4 different open access points. The taxi driver kept looking in the rearview mirror to see what I was doing.

• Posted by: Cam on Apr 10, 2003, 7:39 PM

When my cable modem went down, and with it my WiFi connection, I just hooked up to one of the three other wireless connections available from my couch. (This is at 112th between B’way and Riverside.)

It’s always interesting to see people’s naming schemes: my apartmentmates have gone for the functional: Wireless; the Sci-Fi: Tatooine; and the locational: apt2e. :)

• Posted by: Adam Trachtenberg on Apr 11, 2003, 10:53 AM

For me, the most mind-blowing aspect of the vast WiFi overlays in New York City is that it’s vertical, and in many cases, the intersection of nodes is more dense several floors up than it is at ground level. I’ve got a number of clients in the Flatiron district, and I can work ten or fifteen stories up and hit six WiFi nodes, and nothing on the ground.

In that district, something else is interesting: there’s more tech savvy. The nodes are something like two-thirds open, a third closed everywhere else, but in the Flatiron District that closed/open ratio is inverted. (Those are my own rough numbers. Nothing statistically proven).

• Posted by: Grant Barrett on Apr 11, 2003, 10:53 PM

Adam, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spent a few minutes trying to figure out why my laptop can’t get to a few machines on my home network, only to figure out that it’s because the wireless card latched onto the access point that’s most likely a few floors beneath me. It’s sorta funny, actually.

• Posted by: Jason on Apr 12, 2003, 3:50 PM

Oh, and Peter — yep, your WiFi node came up just as I was going by Mike’s Deli. Funny that it’s visible from the ground despite being eight stories up; I’m seven stories up here, and mine can’t be seen from Broadway. (That probably has more to do with where it’s placed in my apartment, though.)

• Posted by: Jason on Apr 12, 2003, 3:53 PM

This blog entry records results from a node count in a taxi, starting at 72nd and driving up Amsterdam Avenue: Between there and 120th Street, I picked up 180 WiFi nodes; only 48 of them (27%) were WEP-protected. Of course,…

• Pinged by Place and Space on Apr 14, 2003, 7:13 PM

I’m posting this from the restaurant where I’ve just had brunch, right across the street from my apartment and the…

• Pinged by on Apr 19, 2003, 3:49 PM
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