NYC: Free Phone and WiFi at 10,000 Payphones

Posted by Sam Churchill on

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced this week that CityBridge will develop and operate up to 10,000 802.11ac access points for New York City’s LinkNYC. It promises to be the largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world.

Public pay telephones will be replaced with WiFi hotspots where residents can make free phone calls in the U.S. and get free 24/7 Internet access. Advertisng will pay for it. The plan is to make ads relevant and contextually-driven in the dense population of Manhattan.

A particular kiosk could change the ad it’s displaying based on what time of day it is, what events are happening nearby, or even potentially what sorts of people are walking by it, at least in a broad demographic sense. In order to ensure equity among all five boroughs and live up to the promise of bringing wireless access to all New York neighborhoods, these units will need to branch into areas currently not highly sought after by advertisers.

The payphone RFP began in 2012 when DoITT issued a Request for Information (RFI) about the future of the payphone.

CityBridge is the consortium of companies that will build the project and includes Qualcomm, Titan, Comark and Control Group. CityBridge’s extended team includes Transit Wireless, Antenna Design as well as a (rumored) Ruckus Wireless,. Transit Wireless would be primarily responsible for the fiber infrastructure and is providing the wireless and Wi-Fi technology for 279 underground subway stations in NYC.

A spokeswoman told FierceWirelesTech that CityBridge was unable to comment on Ruckus’ role in the project. The city’s Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications spokesman could not immediately confirm Ruckus’ participation. A spokesman for Ruckus Wireless would not comment.

Ruckus offers dual-band 802.11ac outdoor access points (AP) designed explicitly for high density public venues. Its Smart Wi-Fi equipment is Passpoint certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is being used to power the Hotspot 2.0 service across both San Jose and San Francisco Wi-Fi networks.

“LinkNYC is an initiative that could only be made in New York – it harnesses the latest technologies and it is a true partnership of the world’s leaders in technology, telecommunications, advertising and design,” said Minerva Tantoco, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York.

Of course lots of cities, including San Jose and others have tried free WiFi. Now, however, technology may have caught up with the vision. Utilizing Hotspot 2.0 (Passport) could allow multiple carriers and Wireless ISPs to use the service for seamless roaming, while smartphones and tablets have provided an insatiable hunger for more bandwidth. Beamforming and Multi-User MIMO will increase range and capacity. Bluetooth and WiFi tracking allow targeted advertising.

But NYC’s “free WiFi” plan could be politically naive. Ad beacons, “supercookies”, and big data could delay or possibly kill any proposal in the current climate of distrust.

Related articles on Dailywireless include; Reinvent Pay Phones, Ruckus Unwires San Jose Airport and Convention Center, Google Fiber Going Wireless?, Chicago Announces Free WiFi in Parks, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City, Qualcomm Annouces Proximity Beacons, Apple’s iBeacon: Location via Bluetooth 4.0, Small Cells for Cisco, Sprint to use Light Radio for Small Cells, Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage, Hotspot 2.0, Intel: Basestation in the Cloud,New Outdoor & Indoor 11ac Access Points from Ruckus, Ruckus Announces 802.11ac Access Points, What’s inside Google’s Fiber Huts?, Google Fiber Expands to More Cities, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City , FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band,

Posted by Sam Churchill on Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 at 10:04 am .

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