NEWARK, NJ — Businesses, residents and visitors to Ferry Street can now seamlessly connect through a free, Wi-Fi network called “Ironbound Wi-Fi.”

The network stems from eight wireless access points along Ferry Street from Union Street to Merchant Street, and project officials have plans to expand the system. The Wi-Fi bleeds about a block off of Ferry Street, where residents can enjoy access to their Apple TVs and devices at home. 

There are an estimated 20,000 users on the network each month. The network speed ranges from 200 to 400 megabits per second, depending on the network’s saturation.

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The city and Invest Newark also envision expanding the model to other wards. Each ward has its own business improvement district which drive individual projects. The new Wi-Fi network on Ferry Street is part of the Newark Fiber/Ironbound Business Improvement District Wi-Fi Pilot Project,.

“Ironbound Wi-Fi” was up and running about a year ago, but there have been ongoing efforts to optimize the network. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka just recently expressed his support of the project, and East Ward Councilman Augusto Amador also supports the effort.

“Newark has the fastest fiber in the world in limited areas, but our strategy beyond that is to empower residents and businesses in every neighborhood with access to high speed internet,” Baraka wrote in a recent press release. “High speed internet at no or little cost is an important element in reaching our goal of making Newark an empowered, educated and equitable city.”

“Newark is now a very attractive place for job creating technology businesses to locate, and widespread 10-gig and higher internet access will accelerate the growth of tech jobs here,” Baraka wrote. 

Funding for the buildout of the Wi-Fi network came through public and private dollars in collaboration with Newark and Ironbound businesses. Design, build and maintenance of the system cost approximately $65,000. The network is expected to support business owners by enabling them to promote and attract patronage and keep residents connected.  

The service is completely free of charge with no hidden fee.

“We want the City of Newark to be able to say to people, in a tangible way, ‘you’re welcome, we’re glad you’re here, what can we do to help you?’ That’s what Wi-Fi does, it connects people. They can look up where they’re going, what restaurant or hardware store,” said Seth Grossman, executive director of Ironbound Business Improvement District.

The free, high-speed, Ironbound Wi-Fi gives business owners a cost-effective way to promote and attract business. The city anticipates business revenues increasing as well sparking interest and participation of its future businesses.

“Invest Newark is thrilled by the continued growth of Newark Fiber, our city’s lower cost, higher speed alternative Internet service provider that is connecting neighborhoods across New Jersey’s largest municipality and closing the digital divide by providing residents and business owners with improved access to opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive here in the great city of Newark,” said Bernel Hall, Invest Newark CEO and president.

Hall said the network and plans for growth will help transform “Brick City into Tech City.”