One of the LinkNYC booths that will bring free Wi-Fi to New York’s streets.
A new “communications network” called LinkNYC announced plans Monday to turn all of the payphones in New York City into public Wi-Fi stations. The kiosks, which are taller and narrower than the average phone booth but preserve the advertising space, will have “up to gigabit speeds” and charging stations for devices, according to a press release Monday.
New York has been trying to figure out what to do with its decrepit payphones for years. In 2012, the city did a very small-scale rollout of Wi-Fi hotspots at 10 phone booths, and in 2013, the Department of Information Technology and Communications solicited and displayed proposals for redesigning and repurposing the booths into something more sightly and useful.
The network, LinkNYC, is a “public-private” partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, DoITT, and CityBridge, a collective of New York companies that includes Qualcomm, Antenna, Comark, and Transit Wireless (the company that has installed Wi-Fi in 47 stations of the city’s subway system). In addition to being Wi-Fi hotspots, LinkNYC kiosks will also have touch screens for accessing information about the city and will allow free domestic phone calls.
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