New $200 Million Plan Aims To Replace New York City Pay Phones With Super-Fast Public Wi-Fi Hubs

A conceptual image of a Link located in Brooklyn. via LinkNYC

A conceptual image of a Link located in Brooklyn. via LinkNYC

A new, ambitious $200 million plan aims to connect residents of New York City’s five boroughs to free, fast public Wi-Fi by replacing the city’s old pay phones with high-tech hubs.

CNET reports that the plan, called LinkNYC, consists of installing 10,000 Link hubs that run at up to one gigabit per second where older pay phones once stood.

Officials with the project say the 9.5-foot hubs provide 24/7, unlimited wireless access that will be more than 100 times faster than average municipal WiFi speeds.

The project is a collaboration between the New York City Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, and CityBridge – consortium including Qualcomm, Titan, Control Group and Comark.

“LinkNYC is a first-of-its-kind communications network that will bring the fastest available municipal Wi-Fi to millions of New Yorkers and visitors,” a press release from CityBridge and LinkNYC states.

In addition to Wi-Fi access the Links will offer other services such as free phone calls within the U.S., access to 311 and 911, free charging stations for phones and a touchscreen tablet so users can find directions and city services.

According to a press release from LinkNYC and CityBridge, the service offers an encrypted network connection, but users are encouraged to use end-to-end encryption, such as HTTPS, for any sensitive matters. Additionally, the network will eliminate the ability to communicate device to device.

The new service reportedly won’t cost anything for residents, as it will be funded through advertising revenue. The digital displays on the hubs are expected to generate more than $500 million over the next 12 years, Business Insider reports.

CNET reports the first 500 Links will be available by late 2015 to early 2016, with construction of the entire system to take place over the next six years.

New York City Has A New Plan To Give Everyone High-Speed WiFi Internet Access For Free [Business Insider]
NYC plans to reboot payphones into superfast Wi-Fi hubs [CNET]

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