Remember that plan to turn NYC’s obsolete pay phone booths into Wi-Fi hotspots? Well the city kicked off the new year by installing the first unit of the LinkNYC pilot program this week at 15th Street and Third Avenue. The plan calls for 7,500 of old booths throughout the city to be converted into hotspots providing fast, free Wi-Fi service.
Each Wi-Fi hotspot will cover about a 150-foot radius and offer super-fast, one-gigabit-per-second service. Although some critics point out that most people already access internet service through their smart phones, the LinkNYC plan is geared toward those who want to save a little money on their restrictive data plans and, of course, the thousands of tourists that stream through the city every day.
After the city approved the pilot program last year, Mayor de Blasio hailed it as a “historic” moment for the city. “With the approval of our LinkNYC proposal to expand free, high-speed internet access to New Yorkers across the five boroughs, we will not only transform outdated payphone infrastructure into cutting-edge Wi-Fi hotspots, but dramatically increase fast broadband reach in more neighborhoods citywide.”
As part of the eight-year “LinkNYC” plan, the project will move forward with the help of a consortium of large companies, including Qualcomm Inc. The large wireless technology company will foot the bill for the estimated $200 million in installation costs in exchange for half of the revenue from the digital advertising placed in the revamped booths, which is expected to draw in $1 billion in revenue over 12 years. After Qualcomm’s cut, the city will take the other half of the profits, more than doubling the $17 million a year it currently receives from city pay phones.
Of course, the ambitious plan does have its critics; namely a pay phone company who sued the city for creating a monopoly for the new consortium, essentially blocking smaller phone and internet service providers.
Via Huffington Post