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New York City gains public gigabit Wi-Fi through first LinkNYC kiosks

A long-awaited public Wi-Fi initiative, LinkNYC, is now officially live in New York City, providing people within range of the kiosks with free Internet access as well as ports for charging phones and tablets.




The first four kiosks were turned on Tuesday morning along Third Avenue in Manhattan, Bloomberg reported. More kiosks will go live in the next several weeks. Within eight years, the total across the city is expected to reach 7,500.

Access can be as simple as selecting the "LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi" hotspot under a device's Wi-Fi settings and entering an email address, which will automatically connect whenever any of the kiosks are within range. People worried about security can get a key for an encrypted connection, although this requires additional steps.

Each kiosk has a guaranteed range of 150 feet, and one gigabit of bandwidth, though individual users are more likely to see upload and download speeds closer to 300 megabits per second. This is still much faster than most cellular or landline Internet connections in the U.S. Range can theoretically extend up to 400 feet, as long as there are no obstacles in the way.

Other features include free VoIP calls through Vonage, and a dedicated button for calling 911. Maintenance costs should be offset by two 55-inch displays showing ads and public service announcements.

The kiosks are the result of a collaboration between the city government and CityBridge, a consortium including Qualcomm, Intersection, and CIVIQ Smartscapes.