Public telephone boxes, seldom used these days, in the city of New York might soon be converted into WiFi stations as a part of a free WiFi roll out. In addition to that, they will also offer free nationwide calls on a touchscreen interface and mobile and tablet phone charging facility as well. The plan, called LinkNYC, will replace 8,400 pay phones in 6,452 installations around the city and will provide internet speed of upto 1 Gbps. Only three booth style pay phones on the Upper West Side will be left behind in the city after this plan is put into action, to be preserved as pieces of city’s history. The terminals, once functional, are expected to provide free internet access up to 45 meters from the hubs.
The mayor of New York City, De Blasio, said the system would expand access to broadband.
“With this proposal for the fastest and largest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world — accessible to and free for all New Yorkers and visitors alike — we’re taking a critical step toward a more equal, open and connected city,” he said.
De Blasio said the CityBridge technology group was chosen to carry out the project. It requires approval by city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee in December.
Digital advertising displays will finance the project ‘at no cost to taxpayers,’ de Blasio said, adding that the hubs are expected to generate more than $US500 million ($A540.98 million) over the course of their first 12 years and create 100 to 150 jobs.
‘We’re taking a critical step toward a more equal, open and connected city — for every New Yorker, in every borough,’ de Blasio said.
“LinkNYC is a first-of-its-kind communications network that will bring the fastest available municipal WiFi to millions of New Yorkers and visitors,” said the Business Insider of this initiative.
Dozens of parks in New York already offer free WiFi to users, as does a small part of the Chelsea neighborhood, thanks to a Google initiative. Earlier in 2013, the then mayor, Michael Bloomberg, had announced the setting up of wireless corridors in parts of Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens And Staten Island besides a WiFi extension in some parts of Manhattan.