Before the age of mobile devices, the streets of NYC were lined with strange metal booths known as “payphones”. Users would insert coins to achieve a dial tone and make calls to landlines around the nation, requiring extra coins for long distance connections. Bizarre to say the least

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We’ve come a long way since the days of public phones, making leaps and bounds in personal communication technology that have rendered the booths useless. So what should be done with the thousands of payphone artifacts sprinkled across the city? CityBridge thinks a free Five-Borough Wi-Fi network is the answer, and Mayor Bill de Blasio seems to agree. That’s why they’ve teamed up to create LinkNYC, the first city-wide, gigabit-speed free Wi-Fi service ever. The service will be powered by military-grade Wi-Fi kiosks that occupy the same footprint as the defunct phone booths they’ll be replacing.

LinkNYC is still in the early stages, with only 16 of the potential 10,000 kiosks up and running. There’s still a long way to go before the goal of city-wide connectivity is achieved but here what we know so far:

LinkNYC is FREE – Users will never have to subscribe for service. Free really means free in this case for the end user.

LinkNYC is FAST – The service literally runs at the speed of light, relying on hundreds of miles of fiber optics to serve state-of-the-art gigabit-speed internet.

LinkNYC is an OPPORTUNITY – Each kiosk features a 55” television screen ready to serve “data-enhanced” advertisements. For example, Miller-Coors is tapping into Shazam data to serve a “Sound of the Streets” playlist based on what nearby users are searching on the popular music identification app.

It’s still too early to see just how far advertisers will be able to go with LinkNYC data, but with more locations being installed every month, we’ll have the answer soon. In fact, we could see over 500 installations in the just the next 5 months alone. Visit Link.NYC for more details and upcoming locations.

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