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Bars scored! Wifi comes to Fulton Mall

Selfsie: Borough President Adams poses with a group of business owners and students from the neighborhood around Fulton Mall.
The Brooklyn Paper
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Fulton Mall shoppers can now go online while standing on line.

The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership launched a new wireless internet hot-spot on Fulton Mall on Thursday, bringing free internet access to patrons and businesses in and around one of Brooklyn’s busiest shopping centers. The project is meant to bring the area up to speed, said Borough President Adams at an event celebrating the flip of a switch.

“Fulton Mall has always been a 20th-century center marketplace for Brooklyn,” said Adams, after posing with a group for some self-portraits, which he took with his and other people’s phones and electronic tablets, as is popular among teenagers and, increasingly, politicians, celebrities, and people’s moms. “The center of the universe is now being connected to the globe.”

Most of the network’s $150,000 price tag is being footed by the city’s Economic Development Corporation through a grant program that hopes to create corridors of wireless access throughout the city. The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and a trio of digital communications companies installed 30 pieces of equipment for the first phase of the project. The gadgets look like antennae and are affixed to the tops of buildings and streetlights all along Fulton Street.

The current coverage blankets an area bounded by Schermerhorn Street, Cadman Plaza West, Flatbush Avenue, and Tillary Street.

Students and faculty at nearby Long Island University, on DeKalb Avenue and Flatbush Avenue Extension, see the new network as an extension of their campus.

“It’s great. Now we can come down here and do work,” said Natasha Lewis, who works in the school’s student life office. “And it makes the mall a bigger hangout.”

Ann Phanor, a respiratory therapy student at the school, likes the idea of getting things done in the open air.

“The hot-spot makes it accessible,” she said. “It’ll be nice, especially when it warms up outside.”

The Partnership hopes to roll out an even bigger Downtown network over the next couple of months. It is also offering local businesses free wifi equipment so they can provide customers free internet access without eating up their commercial bandwidth.

The project provides folks who have a phone or computer but lack internet access a way to get on the web, Adams said.

“This new hot-spot, like the one in Fort Greene Park, facilitates the flow of information for Brooklynites of all backgrounds,” Adams said in a statement.

The initiative is also being billed as a way to make the neighborhood more enticing to technology companies.

“A strong wifi network also allows Downtown Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle to continue to attract companies that are driving the innovation economy,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Partnership.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperlman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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