New York City’s LinkNYC Now Provides Free WI-FI And Phone Calls


LinkNYC Hub on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Photo: Brian Kachejian

Sorry Superman, but the days of old-fashioned phone booths are now completely gone. New York City has begun replacing all its old-fashioned pay phones with free WI-FI calling stations. Yes, that’s right! free phone calls and faster than a speeding bullet WI-FI. Sorry, it’s impossible to refrain from referencing Superman when writing about phone booths. In other words, to utilize modern-day technical terminology, the New York City Link booths will be offering what the city bills as the” Fastest WI-FI in New York City.” And they are not kidding, as the LinkNYC hubs offer what is termed as “Gigabyte Speed.”  The city claims the gigabyte speed is 100 times faster than any other WI-FI connection available.

Lets look closely at what LinkNYC really offers. The hubs that are spread all over New York City offer anyone with a smart phone, tablet or computer the opportunity to connect to a blazing fast WI-FI Network. All it takes to connect is a one time registration utilizing an email address. Any device that is capable of connecting to WI-FI can connect to the LinkNYC hubs. There are two options that the links provides. One option is called ‘LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi’  which is public access WI-FI similar to what you would find at a Starbucks or other public centers like libraries or transit hubs.

The more secure option is called ‘LinkNYC Private’ which supposedly provides a secure connection between the hub and your WI-FI connected device. Both options are free. The email address that you register with will receive an email with simple instructions for connecting to LinkNYC. However, at this time in July of 2017, only certain devices will work with the ‘LinkNYC Private’ connection. Those devices are listed as Apple devices that utilize Hotspot 2.0 technology. Which for the most part, means all iPhones and Ipads that have been released in the past 3 or 4 years. Sorry Samsung users, but for now you are stuck with the unsecured ‘LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi’. So if you have a non Apple device, just make sure that the websites you visit employee SSL certificates.

Free Wi-Fi is only half of what the LinkNYC hubs offer. You wont need a dime anymore to make a phone call. Okay sorry, we realize its not 1967 anymore. Lets try this again. You wont need any money to make a phone call with the LinkNYC hubs. One may use the keypad on the hub and make a free domestic phone call. Sorry, no free calls to Russia or Iceland. There is a headphone connection to use so that you can keep you call as private as possible while standing on a street corner surrounded by hundreds of people. The LinkNYC hubs also offer a screen where users can access all types of information and directions for destinations New York City

The LinkNYC hubs also offer free USB charging stations. The USB connections are only connected to a power source so there is no concern of data transfer between the devices via USB. The WI-FI that is generated from the hubs only has a reach of about 150 feet. Each hub is also equipped with cameras. Since there are close to one thousand of these LinkNYC hubs around New York City, the cameras pretty much assure that every street in the city and all that transpires on every New York City street are being videotaped

New York City claims that no taxpayer money is being used in funding the LinkNYC program. The entire program is being funded through the utilization of advertisements shown on the LinkNYC kiosks.

With the incredible surge in smartphones being used by New Yorkers, the major phone carriers seem to be having a hard time supplying the demand for service. The networks that carriers have built in recent years simply can’t support the amount of usage that a city like New York demands. We all get tired of watching that spinning circle. The employment of these LinkNYC kiosks is a great idea that if kept under control and not abused by the criminal element is simply a fantastic addition to the city. The ability to make free phone calls is something we never could have imagined during the Dick Tracy days.  Sure, there is a concern about privacy, but that’s something that we have given up in a trade-off for safety. So now anyone can enter New York City without a car or phone and use technology like LinkNYC to find directions, make a phone call , and than hop on a CitiBike to get to their destination.

LinkNYC will do away with these old school phone booths.

LinkNYC Free WI-fI

Photo “Phone booths” by desertdarlene is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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