As Crain’s first reported, the first of the city’s upcoming 7,500 LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks have officially rolled out today. Two new “links” (as they’ll be called), have sprouted up along Third Avenue in the East Village, one at the corner of East 15th Street and the other at East 17th Street. Each kiosk measures 9.5 feet tall and will be equipped with a gigabit-speed Wi-Fi connection with a 150-foot range, charging stations, a touch-screen that provides maps and info about city services, and a speaker phone that will let users make domestic calls—and all for free! The kiosks are meant to replace NYC’s 6,000 now-defunct pay phones.
The network of links will cost about $200 million to implement, but according to Crain’s, who attended today’s LinkNYC press unveiling, advertising generated by the kiosks are expected to bring in $500 million in revenue over the next 12 years. The designs themselves are the product of CityBridge, a technology consortium that teamed up with the city after winning a 12-year contract through the design competition Reinvent Payphones.
While the two kiosks debuting today won’t be fully functional just yet, they will give New Yorkers an idea of what’s to come. The gigabit-speed Wi-Fi connection is expected to kick in over the next two weeks, as eight other links planned for Third Avenue below 58th Street are installed. In February, the trial phase will bring a tablet component into the mix, this bit of tech giving users the ability to make phone calls and search the web. It’s expected by June that 500 more kiosks will be installed across the five boroughs. By 2024, the city will be covered with 7,500 links