Since payphones are no longer viable, New York City is placing free WiFi kiosks where they are now.
A part of the LinkNYC project, which is run by the city and CityBridge, a tech consortium that includes Qualcomm, CIVIQ Smartscapes and Intersection, a Google/Alphabet subsidiary, are facilitating the move.
The stations will offer super fast WiFi at a range of up to 400 feet, built-in tablet computers, a 911 button, free phone calls within the U.S., and USB charging stations for tablets and smartphones.
The first two kiosks were unveiled today, and the plan calls for an additional 7,498 kiosks to be placed around the city within the next eight years. Service will not turn on till later in the month. The kiosks stand about 9.5 feet tall and feature targeted display ads on either side.
In a briefing with journalists in New York on Monday, Intersection’s Chief Innovation Officer Colin O’Donnell is reported to have said: “We’re deploying a network that’s so fast the most recent iPhone is only capable of using less than half its available speed.”
The network is expected to support itself with ads: CityBridge invested $200 million, but expects to generate $500 million in the first 12 years. Sidewalk Labs, Google’s urban innovation company, created Intersection by merging Titan and Control Group.
City officials say that the kiosks will be in all five boroughs by summer.