New York Post Plan calls for free Wi-Fi kiosks on city street corners by Aaron Short

New York Post
New York Post
Plan calls for free Wi-Fi kiosks on city street corners
Aaron Short
11/18/2014

The fastest Wi-Fi in town is coming to street corners around the city — and it won’t cost a cent to use.

City officials have reached a 12-year deal to install 10,000 kiosks in all five boroughs, they said, which according to one of the private operators involved will constitute the “largest and fastest” free Internet program in the world.

The project, known as LinkNYC, will offer blisteringly-fast speeds — 20 times quicker than the average for home Internet. A two-hour high-definition movie that usually take hours to download could be zapped to a mobile device in a mere 30 seconds.

Best of all, the service would be supported by ad revenues and, as such, will be entirely free to users.

Services that would be included without charge include:

  • Phone calls to all 50 states
  • Charging stations for cellphones and other mobile devices
  • Gigabit-speed Wi-Fi to within 150 feet of each kiosk, including locations currently occupied by antiquated street pay phones
  • “Wayfinding” maps for travelers
  • An interface to access city services
  • And, for the security-minded, the network would be among the first in any city to offer an encrypted connection

The first kiosks are supposed to be up and running by the end of 2015 under the agreement with a consortium of companies called CityBridge, which includes Titan, the city’s largest pay-phone franchisee.

Wireless experts called the $200 million network a “win for everybody.”

“New York appears to be taking the lead in moving mobile data rates that are so much faster than we’ve ever experienced,” said Professor Theodore Rappaport of Polytechnic Institute of New York University. “We’re at the dawn of a global trend.”

City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who has pushed to expand wireless access, said the network would encourage other cities to follow New York’s lead.

“We are nearer than ever to universal broadband in public spaces and a meaningful step toward closing the digital divide,” he said.

City officials estimated the deal, which still has to be approved next month by the Franchise Concession Review Committee, could bring in $1 billion in revenues over the next 12 years. The city stands to collect $500 million under a 50/50 split.

Scott Goldsmith, chief commercial officer at Titan, said the project would be “largest and fastest free municipal Wi-Fi network in the world.”

  

Issue: 
Technology