Here's some Digital Age progress coming to a street near you: NYC is replacing those dinosaur payphone stalls used now as gum receptacles (and the occasional toilet) with super useful Wi-Fi hubs. Last Wednesday the Franchise and Concession Committee voted unanimously to allow a city group called LinkNYC to place 500 kiosks all around NYC starting in 2015. The kiosks will serve as Wi-Fi hubs so you don't have to steal wireless from your neighbor's open network. They'll also allow you to make free US phone calls on your cell phone, and charge your phone.
Park Slope homeslice Mayor Bill de Blasio was so in favor of this initiative that the city helped to create LinkNYC as a public and private partnership. And don't worry, according to the city, it doesn't cost taxpayers a thing. It's all funded off of advertising revenue. Basically these kiosks are going to be covered in digital "intelligent" ads so they can pay for themselves, which is fine by me.
de Blasio was quoted by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle saying:
With the approval of our LinkNYC proposal to expand free, high-speed Internet access to New Yorkers across the five boroughs, we will not only transform outdated payphone infrastructure into cutting-edge Wi-Fi hotspots, but dramatically increase fast broadband reach in more neighborhoods citywide.
Mayor de Blaz also says the layout of this network will also result in full and part-time job creation while providing the city with over 500 million smackers in revenue over the span of twelve years.
There was a little controversy at first when the proposal called for two types of kiosks, a very fast one gig model and a slower 100 megabit model. Many were concerned when they saw that all the fast one gig models were going to wealthier neighborhoods and the poorer hoods were getting the slower kiosks.
So the borough prezzies got together and shook some shit up improving on the contract before it went before the committee last Wednesday. Apparently all's well, but Manhattan will get 2,195 of these puppies over the next four years. Brooklyn's getting 586 fast one gig kiosks with an additional 73 slower 100 megabit models being added into the mix as well.
Here's the sorta catch: If you're concerned about privacy when using one of these bad boys, you might be justified according to the International Business Times LinkNYC has the ability to “share data with advertisers and use it to serve relevant ads.” I mean that's a no brainer since these things will be collecting gigantic amounts of data. But the website clearly states that the networks will be encrypted and it will never ever never "share or sell any protected personal information.”
You may want to recall when Buzzfeed blew the lid off of Titan's Manhattan phone booth transmitters. Hmmmm?
Who am I kidding, I'd still use one.