While Earthlink ponders a jump out of WiFi, broadcaster CBS is making an interesting move in the space. The company is blanketing midtown Manhattan with WiFi access and delivering news, sports and entertainment for free to users of cell phones, laptops and other WiFi-enabled devices, say the iPhone? Dubbed the "CBS Mobile Zone," the massive hotspot will cover a 20-block area from Times Square to Central Park and from 6th to 8th avenues.
CBS is giving away routers to local businesses such as restaurants and coffee shops. The initiative is part of a pilot program with New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority and New York City Transit to test the system. CBS has also partnered with several companies, such as Tropos and FON, to develop the WiFi Zone.
The hotspot also utilizes CBS Outdoor, the media company's network of billboards and marketing displays throughout the U.S. Several routers have been attached to the billboards and signs.
Users logging in to the free CBS service will encounter a homepage supported by advertising that offers news, music, ringtones and social networking. If this works out, CBS will likely apply the concept to other CBS Outdoor properties, the company said.
The news comes at a time when hotspot providers are recording a noticeable jump in traffic from Apple's iPhone, which features both AT&T EDGE service and WiFi. The concept also opens the door to a number of content-related plays for CBS.
- check out this article from InformationWeek