New York City to Spread Wi-Fi with Rat-Carried Mobile Hotspots
In an effort to amplify the reach of free Wi-Fi, New York City officials have unveiled an unorthodox new plan—strapping tiny Wi-Fi boosters to the city’s rats.
While it may seem outlandish, the plan has gained serious traction after several successful small-scale test runs. Manhattan residents reported “noticeably faster speeds” in parks and public places after the rats were released in their neighborhoods, with download speeds peaking the night before garbage collection days.
“I think it’s a genius idea,” said 28-year-old Harlem resident Linda Chen, one of many satisfied residents. “After the bubonic plague, I feel like rats have an awful reputation, but they’re not all bad. They can be very useful.”
“And free Wi-Fi, you know, makes a huge difference,” Chen added.
The program follows on from earlier, successful experiments in rural locations in the UK, in which sheep fitted with cameras offered television viewers unique angles of the Tour De France. While leading technological advocates have considered turning the livestock into walking mobile hotspots, the plan has since failed to gain traction in Europe. New York City has capitalized on the idea, fitting the city’s enormous rats with Wi-Fi boosting collars.
Animal rights activists have condemned the operation, reportedly accusing city officials of “leveraging the city’s universal disgust towards rats” in order to push forward the potentially inhumane Wi-Fi collars.
“The collars are absolutely safe,” said Rhonda Lombardino, a city spokesperson, who described the Wi-Fi enabled collars as a “technological breakthrough” that could do for New York City rats “what rabid grizzly bears did for Leonardo DiCaprio—that is, put them on the map.”
For a city project, the response has been unusually positive. Native New Yorker and NYU Humanities graduate Bryan Andrews, who lives in the test zone, called the program “a runaway success”.
“After a long day of bussing tables, I’d usually have to resort to the Starbucks near my apartment if I wanted free Internet, which is totally corporate and not punk at all,” he said. “These rats are amazing. I’ve been leaving food in the hallway of my apartment complex, whole raw chickens and everything, so that I can attract more rats and better download speeds.” When asked about the potential for disease and public health concerns, he responded with free high-speed Internet being “a fair gamble” for another outbreak of the Black Plague.
“I can stream HD video on three different devices,” he continued, while also noting that he would be more than willing to “lose a few lymph nodes to the plague” if his Wi-Fi service was uninterrupted.
Some residents are not as pleased. When asked about the new program, Bay Ridge grandmother Sandra Jackson called the effort “a waste of time and ridiculously stupid.”
“Rats are dirty, awful creatures,” she said. “And who needs the Internet?” When pushed about the potential benefits for her tech-savvy grandchildren, she called the Internet both “dangerous” and “confusing.”
Public health and disease management expert Debbie Howard called the public’s response to the program “troubling.”
“You really have to wonder about a city that’s willing to let themselves be bombarded, literally, with animal poop, so that they can stream 1080p Netflix exclusives,” she said. “We could stick the Wi-Fi boosters on cabs, or on pigeons, or on streetlamps. Everyone’s so excited at the prospect of free, fast Internet that they’re completely closed off to any other possibilities.”
“I’m not complaining, though,” she added. “I mean, we’re due for another major epidemic soon anyway. I just didn’t think it would be because of The Walking Dead.”