Look out Brooklynites, the city is going Gigabit.
An entirely new and first-of-its-kind communications network using “Gigabit Wi-Fi—” said to be 20 times faster than average home internet service and 100 times faster than average public Wi-Fi—is coming to a borough near you by the end of 2015.
LinkNYC is set to replace existing and outdated payphones across the city with stations that provide “24/7 free internet access, free phone calls anywhere in the U.S., a touchscreen tablet interface to access city services and directions, and free charging stations for your mobile devices,” according to the CityBridge site.
The move comes after New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and all five borough presidents complained that residents of the outer boroughs had less access to high-tech innovations than residents of Manhattan.
According to a report released by Stringer earlier this month, 21 percent of New York City youth, 45 percent of seniors, and 30 percent of households in Brooklyn lack broadband at home. Forty percent of those with less than a high school education lack broadband at home as well.
In Brooklyn, connectivity of neighborhoods ranged from a high of 85.3 percent (in Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Red Hook, Cobble Hill and Gowanus; Community Board 6) to a low of 53.1 percent in Kensington, Borough Park and Bensonhurst (Community Board 12).
“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proposal to expand free, high-speed Internet access to New Yorkers across the five boroughs, we will not only transform outdated payphone infrastructure into cutting-edge Wi-Fi hotspots, but dramatically increase fast broadband reach in more neighborhoods citywide,” said Mayor Bill De Blasio in a statement. “From bringing new local jobs and a guaranteed revenue of $500 million over the next 12 years, to providing free domestic calling—all at zero cost to taxpayers—LinkNYC will be a game-changer for our city.”
The program was born out of a public-private partnership between the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation, CityBridge—an NYC-based conglomerate of leading experts in technology and advertising, and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT).
“Through negotiation with City Hall and DoITT, as well as the important collaboration between all five borough presidents, we have arrived at a stronger agreement that will better ensure equity in the expansion of free municipal WiFi,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams. “Thanks to the collaboration of my partners in government, this is a deal I can be proud to support.”
The links will also provide easy access to 911 and 311, as well as digital displays for advertising and public service announcements. For more information, visit www.link.nyc.