NEW YORK In an initiative led by CBS Corp., a bustling swath of midtown Manhattan will soon have free wireless access.
Through the wiring of billboards, Metropolitan Transit Authority displays and the offer of free routers to local businesses, the "CBS Mobile Zone" will provide free WiFi service through more than 20 city blocks extending from Times Square north to Central Park South and from Sixth Avenue west to Eighth Avenue.
Certain locations already are up, and the whole area is expected to be outfitted by month's end, CBS said Thursday.
The project is part of a six-month test with the MTA and New York City Transit to test the capabilities of wireless in the city. CBS' Outdoor and Interactive divisions put the project together on the network end.
CBS Outdoor chairman and CEO Wally Kelly said the mobile zone will allow his group "to evaluate the prospect of applying WiFi capabilities across our outdoor properties globally."
Users who access wireless in the CBS zone would first get to an advertising-supported home page hosted by the network. The page will feature local and national news, wallpapers, ring tones, maps featuring local restaurants and entertainment options, and social networking and search options.
Financial services giant Citigroup and Salesgenie.com have signed on as sponsors of the WiFi zone.
CBS' corporate headquarters are on 52nd Street between Sixth Avenue and Fifth Avenue, which is on the edge of the zone.