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May 2003, Special Report on Wi-Fi

Anthony Townsend and Terry Schmidt

The most famous Wi-Fi node in the world, in midtown Manhattan's Bryant Park, went live last June, switched on by Anthony Townsend, who teaches urban planning at NYU, and his free-wireless comrade, Terry Schmidt. By the end of the summer, the network was drawing 50-plus users a day and had transformed the duo's organization, NYCwireless, from a bunch of bandwidth pirates into a respected champion of public access. Their pitch: Any neighborhood can go wireless, for as little as $1,000. "Bryant Park spends almost as much on rat poison every year," says Schmidt. The two are now at work on a new, eight-node "walking network" that will put every part of downtown within a five-minute walk of free Wi-Fi. - Lucas Graves


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