You can’t swing a cat in San Francisco without bouncing it off a dozen open Wi-Fi signals. A Devicescape study found that twice as many businesses in SF offered Wi-Fi to their customers than in NYC.


Both New York City and San Francisco are cosmopolitan cities rife with dining, shopping and cultural amenities. But if you were to walk into any given shop or cafe in either city looking for Wi-Fi, you’re twice as much more likely to get connected in downtown San Francisco than you are in Manhattan.

Virtual hotspot aggregator Devicescape analyzed its crowdsourced hotspot and Wi-Fi access data in the central business district cores of both cities and found that San Francisco is much more accommodating city when it comes to offering free Wi-Fi to its denizens. It found that 47 percent of customer-facing businesses in San Francisco offer Wi-Fi to their patrons compared to 23 percent in NYC.

Source: Devicescape's 2013 Amenity Wi-Fi Analytics Report

Source: Devicescape’s 2013 Amenity Wi-Fi Analytics Report

Breaking down the specific types of businesses, Devicescape found Wi-Fi in three out of four coffee shops and cafes in San Francisco (55 percent in New York) and 50 percent of restaurants (30 percent in the Big Apple) offered Wi-Fi. What’s most interesting is how much Wi-Fi Devicescape found in San Francisco retail stores: 39 percent of SF shops offered Wi-Fi to their customers while the number was only 9 percent in NYC. Finally, SF businesses were much more prone to make Wi-Fi easily accessible to patrons. Of the establishments that offered Wi-Fi in San Francisco, 54 percent were open to the public without a password, compared to 41 percent in New York.

The one area where both cities matched closely was in outdoor public Wi-Fi. Devicescape found free open Wi-Fi available at nearly half of the top 100 tourist and local attractions in each city.

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  1. NYC has 10x the population and SF is so small you could tuck the entire city well within any NYC borough. Kind of a silly comparison.

    1. Was the chart comparing it to Manhattan not specific enough for you?

      1. Not to mention the primary stat cited is percent of businesses offering wi-fi. You could compare NYC to Gorst Washington and the comparison would still be valid.

        1. After I posted that I was wondering just how big Gorst was. In addition to discovering it’s apparently under 600 people, I also discovered the Wikipedia article on Gorst is pretty funny.

  2. I’ve found SF open wifi access to suck compared to other west coast cities such as Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. It is really tough to get free wifi in SF.

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