It appears that AT&T is trying to fix its bad rep in New York City for cellular coverage with a mighty gift: The company just announced a new initiative with the city offering free Wi-Fi in its parks for the next five years. And it’s not just restricted to subscribers — the public in general, customer or no, will be able to enjoy the free connectivity.

Starting now, Battery Bosque (Battery Park), the north-end playground in the Joyce Kilmer Park (Bronx), and the rec center at Thomas Jefferson Park (East Harlem) are all operational, with 23 more locations to follow. The list of sites includes:

  • Bronx: Joyce Kilmer Park, Bronx River Park and Devoe Park
  • Brooklyn: Brooklyn Bridge Park, Fort Greene Park, Herbert Von King Park, McCarren Park and Prospect Park
  • Manhattan: Battery Park, Thomas Jefferson Park, Central Park (multiple locations), the High Line, Holcombe Rucker Park, Marcus Garvey Park and Tompkins Square Park
  • Queens: Astoria Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park and MacDonald Park
  • Staten Island: Clove Lake Park and South Beach

This is either a “make-good” or an attempt to ease the cellular data load, but either way, Mayor Bloomberg has reason to be tickled pink. In total, 26 locations across 20 parks will be outfitted with free public hotspots, and there are also renewal options, so the service might even continue beyond five years.

Users with select AT&T mobile devices will be able to connect automatically, while others will scan for their open Wi-Fi networks and join “attwifi.” Doesn’t look like any password is needed; just launch the browser and click to connect.

One word of caution, though: Be sure to set passwords/security for your devices. You don’t want random people tunneling in. You’ve been warned.