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Free WiFi access for entire NY City neighborhood

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A Manhattan neighborhood has become the first in New York to have totally free outdoor wireless Internet access, courtesy of Internet giant Google. 

US Senator Charles Schumer speaks during a January 8, 2013, news conference announcing that free Wi-Fi will be provided by Google to the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea.

"All you need is a laptop or smartphone or other wireless-enabled device and a web browser to get online," Google's chief information officer Ben Fried said at a press conference announcing the free Internet access, which covers about 20 city blocks in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.

The neighborhood is where Google has a large corporate presence, making it a logical place for the massive free Internet hotspot for New Yorkers toting WiFi-ready devices.

"New York is the second largest Google office in the world," said Fried, flanked by city Mayor Michael Bloomberg and US Senator Chuck Schumer.

"This neighborhood can now claim to be the first in Manhattan with totally free outdoor WiFi," Bloomberg said, adding that he hopes New York will dislodge California's Silicon Valley one day to become "tech center of the world."

More than 100,000 of Google's immediate neighbors will enjoy the free WiFi, in addition to thousands of daily visitors to the neighborhood.

Bloomberg noted that there are already about 20 city parks that enjoy free Internet access, and said the service would be extended to 32 others by September.

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