AT&T in process of upgrading Wi-Fi in NYC parks with Passpoint

Not only does AT&T (NYSE: T) have New York City's parks covered with Wi-Fi, but it's in the process of rolling out AT&T Wi-Fi Passpoint that incorporates Hotspot 2.0 technology.

While city officials and a consortium of companies called CityBridge are turning old phone booths into futuristic-looking LinkNYC-branded public Wi-Fi hotspots, New York City is home to more than 20 parks where AT&T has been offering free Wi-Fi. AT&T teamed up with the city on the parks initiative five years ago to strategically deploy Wi-Fi in the five boroughs so park visitors can stay connected. 

Now the company is working with customers to upgrade existing infrastructure to support the Passpoint capability, according to AT&T Director of Communications Alexa Kaufman. Passpoint was launched in 2012 and is based on the Wi-Fi Alliance's Hotspot 2.0 Technical Specification. It's designed to make it easier for users to find and authenticate a Wi-Fi hotspot so they don't have to re-enter their credentials every time. It also offers WPA2 for greater security.

AT&T's parks program spans 27 locations across 21 NYC Parks and allows Wi-Fi enabled smartphone or tablet users to connect, regardless of carrier. "We continue to work with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to upgrade our existing Parks networks to ensure greater capacity and coverage for all residents and visitors to New York City," Kaufman told FierceWirelessTech.

AT&T Wi-Fi Passpoint encrypts Wi-Fi communications between the device and the Wi-Fi network and requires mutual authentification between the device and the network. While Passpoint uses the latest encryption protocols, it does not encrypt communications over the Internet, only between the Wi-Fi network and the device, Kaufman said. 

Besides enabling millions of connections since the program started, AT&T also offers AT&T Street Charge solar mobile charging stations, which each spring and summer are deployed in parks across the city. The Street Charge solar-powered units work day or night, in rain or shine, and have been a sustainable solution for New Yorkers to keep their phones powered throughout the day, Kaufman said.  "We are excited about all the great things happening in the city and we're proud to help keep residents keep connected to the things that are most important to them," she said.  

In addition to New York City parks, AT&T has more than 35,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots at restaurants, hotels, bookstores and retailers, including more than 480 public hotspot locations in the New York metro area. The company isn't naming names, however, when it comes to which vendor or vendors' equipment or technology it's using.

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