I remember one of the last times I used a payphone—it was in the ‘90s and it was outside a fast food restaurant and I was calling someone in the same city. It cost 25 cents to initiate the call and then an operator came on and told me I’d need to deposit more money because the call was not considered a “local” call! I do not miss pay phones… not a bit.
Apparently, New York City still has plenty of pay phones. But their days are numbered. On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the city’s selection of CityBridge—a consortium of four companies including Qualcomm—to develop and operate a first-of-its-kind communications network, LinkNYC, and bring the world’s fastest municipal Wi-Fi to the city. The plan calls for state-of-the-art connection points called “Links” to replace the network of antiquated public pay telephones
CityBridge will be authorized to build up to 10,000 Links across the five boroughs. Links would offer 24/7 free Internet access at up to gigabit speeds, which is over 100 times faster than average public Wi-Fi, as well as a range of other services including free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S., a touchscreen tablet interface to access City services, wayfinding, easy access to 911 and 311 calls, free cell phone charging and digital displays for advertising and public service announcements.
The network will be built at no-cost to taxpayers and is expected to generate more than $500 million in revenue for the city over the next 12 years.
Construction of the LinkNYC network would begin in early 2015, with the first structures to begin replacing existing public pay telephones by the end of the year. The stations will provide Internet signals that can reach as far as 150 feet, and offer users without mobile devices a touch-screen Android tablet.
Other companies in the CityBridge consortium include media company and payphone franchisee Titan, New York-based technology and design company Control Group and design company Comark LLC.
You can learn more about the announcement here.