Internet Wants to Be Free

Wall Street Journal Blanketing Most of Manhattan with Free Wifi

An old media stunt we can get behind.
screen shot 2012 08 24 at 9 54 45 am <em>Wall Street Journal</em> Blanketing Most of Manhattan with Free Wifi

(Photo: Shutterstock)

These days, newspapers will seemingly stop at nothing to boost their bottom line. Those Weekender ads are notoriously obnoxious, and we’re getting awfully tired of deleting the identification key at the end of a New York Times URL to get around the paywall. But the Wall Street Journal has finally devised a marketing scheme that we can get behind: instituting free wifi throughout our fine city (oh, and in San Francisco).

According to PaidContent, the Journal plans to blanket 70 percent of Manhattan, as well as a chunk of three other boroughs and two neighborhoods in San Francisco, with thousands of free Wifi hotspots. The paper hopes that by providing free Internet to the city’s always-on citizens, they’ll increase brand recognition and hopefully nab more subscriptions.

PaidContent also notes:

The paper will also garner valuable customer data since non-subscribers must register to access the WiFi. Existing subscribers can simply log-in using their accounts; this too promises to deliver a trove of marketing data about the places that Journal readers frequent.

The Wifi will reportedly be available “through September.” Afterwards, you’ll probably be stuck fighting for a seat at Starbucks again.

Follow Jessica Roy on Twitter or via RSS. jroy@observer.com