Next time you’re in New York, you won’t have to slip into a ubiquitous Starbucks for your free wifi. On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio cut the virtual ribbon for the city’s new program: LinkNYC.
LinkNYC has plans to bring free, warp-speed wifi to all five boroughs, but for now, the kiosks, or “links” are in Manhattan. This internet is faster than most anything you’ve ever experienced, and it’ll soon be all over the city. The program officially launched on January 19 in Manhattan, but in a sort of beta mode: the only enabled feature, until now, was the crazy-fast wifi.
Starting Thursday, the Links also replace public payphones, offering free domestic calling in addition to “two USB charging ports, a tablet for accessing the internet, and a red 911 button to contact emergency services,” the press release announces. And more and more Links will be popping up across the city: by the end of July, there will be over 500 kiosks in all five boroughs; by mid-2019, there will be over 4,500 of them.
This program melds beautifully with one of De Blasio’s passions: fighting for social and economic equality.
Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley echoed this sentiment: “We know that low income New Yorkers, particularly African American and Latino residents, rely on their smartphones to get online. And now New Yorkers can reduce some of that broadband bill, no matter their zip code, at no cost to taxpayers.”
The rest of the city’s press release was, naturally, filled with trumpeters and trumpet echoes, the redundancies of which are too amusing to exclude — plus, they do go some ways to tell you a bit more about what the program provides to both New Yorkers and tourists.
Mayor de Blasio:
LinkNYC is the Wi-Fi network New Yorkers deserve: the largest, fastest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world — and you won’t need to insert a quarter in the slot, because it’s completely free.
Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito:
LinkNYC takes another step by providing Wi-Fi hotspots all across the five boroughs to make internet accessibility more inclusive for all.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams:
By expanding access to the Internet from thousands of sites in our city, LinkNYC will keep New Yorkers connected.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.:
Folks are thrilled that free, citywide public Wi-Fi is well on its way.
Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York Minerva Tantoco:
Just like the smartphone, we’ll look back on the world before LinkNYC and wonder how we ever lived without it.
Union Square Partnership Executive Director Jennifer Falk:
LinkNYC brings our public spaces into the 21st century, giving access to all and strengthening our great city’s place as a global leader in technology, communication and media.
Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Committee on Technology:
Who could argue with free Wi-Fi? LinkNYC is going to save New Yorkers a bundle when it comes to data plans. I know I plan on taking advantage of the service!
Who could argue with free wifi, James? Not me.
(Especially not if you agree to plop a kiosk right outside my apartment.)
Source for main photograph is this gem of an extended moment: