20 NYC parks score free AT&T Wi-Fi

The next time you get mugged in Central Park, you'll be able to tell the world about it in real time.

That's because AT&T is launching 26 new Wi-Fi hot spots in 20 different parks in New York's five boroughs, including the Joyce Kilmer Park in the Bronx, Astoria Park in Queens and, yes, Central Park in Manhattan. AT&T says that the hot spots are free to use for AT&T customers and non-customers alike. The company is also doing this work without any charge to New York taxpayers, as it says that "this is an investment and service we're proud to make in New York City."

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AT&T is already offering the hot spots in certain areas of Battery Park, Joyce Kilmer Park and Thomas Jefferson Park, with the rest of the hot spots to be launched periodically throughout the summer. The only thing you need to connect to the hot spots is a Wi-Fi-capable device, AT&T says.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was predictably pleased that AT&T was giving New York parks free Wi-Fi in his remarks marking the announcement today.

"New York City has the greatest network of public parks in the world, and we've invested heavily to expand and enhance them," he said. "Now, thanks to the terrific corporate citizenship of AT&T, they will provide an even better experience."

AT&T has for years touted the multitude of Wi-Fi hot spots it offers across the United States, as the company now has more than 24,000 hot spots spread throughout the country. AT&T started aggressively expanding its Wi-Fi footprint in 2008 when it began deploying its Wi-Fi services to 7,000 Starbucks locations nationwide.

AT&T also broadened the scope of its Wi-Fi business last year by purchasing Wayport, a network and applications management company that provides back-office management for Wi-Fi hot spots. In total, the Wayport acquisition and the Starbucks deal helped the company branch out its Wi-Fi footprint to roughly 20,000 locations in the United States and more than 80,000 locations around the world.

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