Free Wi-Fi for New Yorkers Is Around the Corner—Literally

LinkNYC / LinkNYC

New Yorkers looking for a Wi-Fi hotspot soon won't have to look further than the nearest phone booth—or at least what used to be a phone booth.

A new company called Sidewalk Labs, which is partially owned by Google, is trying to give new life to some of the forgotten booths by turning them into tech-savvy portals for modern use. The project won New York City's contest for repurposing the booths in 2012 and is now coming to fruition. 

The new booths, called Links, will have a whole host of features. Current plans include 24-hour Wi-Fi (expected to be 20 times faster than the Internet inside the average New York home), charging stations, free phone calls across the country, and easy access to 911 and information services. The Links will also be Americans with Disabilities Act-approved.


There are plans in the works for up to 10,000 Links portals, some standing where you used to be able to find a phone booth. The city hopes to install 500 by the end of 2015. The Wi-Fi should work within 150 feet of the Link, and there will be two separate designs: a large, bright commercial design and a more discrete residential version that won't interfere with everyday life.

The system is designed to be secure and usable in all five boroughs. The services will be free to consumers and will be funded by advertisements. In total, the Links are predicted to bring in over $500 million in revenue in 12 years.

If the project works well, it can be expected to be used as an example in other cities as well. The goal of the project is to make New York more efficient and accessible to everyone—even those with limited data plans.

[h/t: The Guardian]