CBS Gives Gift of Wi-Fi for the Holidays

CBS will provide free Wi-Fi high-speed-data service throughout midtown Manhattan as part of a six-month pilot program with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit to test the potential communications capabilities of Wi-Fi technology.

The "CBS Mobile Zone," which goes fully operational later this month, will create a Wi-Fi "hot zone" with a footprint of more than 20 city blocks from Times Square to Central Park South and from Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue, allowing consumers with Wi-Fi-enabled cellular phones, laptops or other devices to access the Internet free-of-charge and to make voice-over-Internet-protocol phone calls.

The project is a joint effort of CBS Outdoor and CBS Interactive, and the Wi-Fi service is being delivered by transmitters on CBS Outdoor billboards and MTA New York City Transit-owned urban panels located above select subway-station entrances. Service was already available in certain areas Thursday.

Citi and signed on as initial sponsors for the CBS Mobile Zone, which will present users with an ad-supported home page that includes breaking local and national news, sports highlights, weather reports, music discovery, wallpapers, ring tones, maps, a social network and the ability to search for nearby restaurants, shops and entertainment complete with geographically-targeted community reviews.

Partners in the project include Tropos Networks, BIG, FON, Ning, goowy media, Veoh, Yelp, 1020, Aptilo Networks and Cando Entertainment.

As part of the project, local businesses will be offered free routers allowing companies and patrons to tap into the CBS Mobile Zone from indoors.

"We are pleased to deliver what may be the most advanced wireless and pre-WiMax outdoor offering of its kind in the United States," CBS Mobile executive vice president Cyriac Roeding said in a statement. "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."