A U.S. district court judge last week effectively ended a payphone company’s lawsuit against the City of New York, opening the door for an ambitious public Wi-Fi hotspot program to proceed.
The payphone company, Telebeam, had sued the city in 2014, arguing that the city shouldn’t have been allowed to force Telebeam to cede up 1,300 public payphone sites when it awarded the contract to rival CityBridge.
Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley said that the decision would have major resonance across New York City.
“This decision is a victory for residents and visitors who will benefit from free and super-fast wireless access throughout the city,” she said in a statement.
LinkNYC, as the project is called, will eventually replace 7,500 pay phones across the city with Wi-Fi-enabled kiosks called Links. In addition to Wi-Fi, every Link will feature device charging and a built-in tablet for easy access to city information and maps.
Currently, the private, secured version of LinkNYC access is only available to users with recent-generation Apple devices that support Hotspot 2.0 features, but the program’s website says that access will be broadened to other devices “over time.” The open version of the network is available to all compatible devices.
Most of the Links that have been installed to date are arranged along two major thoroughfares in Manhattan – from the West Village up 8th Avenue to Columbus Circle, and then continuing north on Broadway up to CCNY, as well as running up 3rd Avenue from the East Village up through the Bronx to Fordham Heights.