New York's Garbage Bins Are Cranking Out Super-Fast Free Wi-Fi

Time Warner Cable vs. actual garbage bins. Who ya got?

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Soon, New York City’s ubiquitous bins of public filth will actually serve a purpose. Last winter the waste management company Bigbelly teamed up with the city’s Downtown Alliance to install two of its smart garbage bins in downtown Manhattan with wireless internet capabilities. Now, true to their name, they want to expand.

Besides being solar-powered, the normal bins worked some magical refuse wonders by sending digital notifications to trash collectors when they were full or stank more than lower Manhattan usually does. The testing bins were also outfitted with Wi-Fi hotspots that boasted speeds of 50 to 75 megabits. Speeds like that make Time Warner Cable look like the trash pile of cable companies, which, come to think of it, yup.

The high power was matched with the fact that no tall buildings interrupted their signals, making these magic garbage oases probably the best Internet you could get in the city.

Wall Street traders watching cell phone porn at strip clubs and teenage girls on the Lower East Side sending selfies made the dry run a resounding success. This allowed Bigbelly to apply for a grant from the mayor’s office to pepper more of its of Wi-Fi bins around the city, from Battery Park to the Bowery and beyond.


Leila Dillon, Bigbelly’s vice president of global marketing, told Citylab its simple, populist mantra: “We are a smart solar-powered, connected technology platform that is literally sitting in the streets of New York. We are exactly where the people are.”

Bigbelly’s free-wireless push matches the ambition of CityBridge, a similar company trying to replace all of New York City’s former telephone booths/current homeless toilets with “Links,” or high powered Wi-Fi stations where New Yorkers and visitors alike can charge their phones, make domestic calls, and get real-time geographic info just in case they forget the city is an idiotproof grid.

The city legitimately updating mini eyesores like phone booths and garbage bins like this is a great step forward. Also, holy shit, it’s free. Companies get advertising space and people get the ability to surf the Internet near a garbage can for stupid amounts of time. Greatest city in the world. New York City will soon have garbage cans that can give us Internet, and yet the Second Avenue subway still isn’t finished. Go figure.