LinkNYC Free Gigabit Public Wi-Fi Takes Shape In New York

Time change at a rapid pace, and whereas it was once common to communicate with each other when out and about using a payphone, these days everyone owns a smartphone. Every wonder what happened to all those phone booths? In New York, they're being converted into free municipal Wi-Fi hotspots.

It's part of an effort called LinkNYC. It's described as a first-of-its-kind communications network designed to bring fast municipal Wi-Fi to millions of New Yorkers and tourists at no cost. The network is being fleshed out through five boroughs at no cost to taxpayers. Instead, it will general hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for New York over the next 12 years primarily through advertising.

Phone Booths
New York is converting old phone booths into free Wi-Fi hotspots and digital hubs

Workers can already be seen installing LinkNYC hubs in certain parts of New York, The goal is to install around 7,500 hubs throughout the city, each of which will replace a telephone booth. Converted hubs will not only serve as Wi-Fi hotspots, but will also be equipped with USB ports for charging mobile devices, touchscreens for browsing the web, and big size displays to serve up advertisements. In addition, users will be able to make free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S. using the integrated tablet and microphone (you can plug in your headphones for more privacy).

As for wireless speeds, officials claim LinkNYC's gigabit Wi-Fi is up to 100 times faster than the average public Wi-Fi that's available in parks and cafes. It also promises to be much faster than 4G LTE connections, provided you're within 150 feet of a Link.

Though construction has already begun, there will be an initial beta phase to try out some of the features and provide feedback. After that, LinkNYC will roll out additional apps an services over the next few months and "on an ongoing basis over the next several years."