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City Installs First Free Wi-Fi Hotspot in East Village

By John Santore | December 28, 2015 7:33pm

NEW YORK CITY — The first high-speed public Wi-Fi hotspot kiosk was installed at the intersection of Third Avenue and 15th Street in the East Village Monday.

The hardware behind the LinkNYC network will replace the city’s former phone booths. Each kiosk installed by CityBridge LLC will provide Internet access in a 150-foot radius, as well as free domestic calls to the United States and a tablet computer for internet browsing, according to city spokeswoman Natalie Grybauskas.

The kiosk was not operational yet as technicians still need to test the equipment, but it should be online within two months, said Grybauskas.

About 510 kiosks will be installed by July, said Grybauskas, of which 98 percent will provide transfer speeds of one gigabit, or one thousand megabytes, per second.  

The city plans to install 4,550 kiosks across the city by July 2019, according to the city’s agreement with CityBridge. Of those, about 4,000 will be gigabit speed, Grybauskas said, including every hotspot in Brooklyn, Queens and The Bronx.

Additionally, at least 7,500 kiosks will be installed by July 2023. Of those, 1,346 are planned for Brooklyn, 736 in the Bronx, 3,900 in Manhattan, 1,238 in Queens and 279 in Staten Island.

Grybauskas said a list of upcoming installation locations wasn't available yet because technical requirements may cause those locations to change over time. However, installation updates will be provided on the LinkNYC website.

The project will be paid for using the anticipated revenues from digital advertising on many of the kiosks. The city estimates those ads will generate $500 million over their first 12 years of operation.

Kiosks installed in some residential areas will not feature advertisements so as not to disturb residents, Grybauskas said. While all of Manhattan’s planned 3,900 kiosks will feature advertisements, just 29 of Staten Island’s 279 structures will.