It is the beginning of the end for New York City’s ubiquitous public payphones. This morning, one of the City’s first public Wi-Fi hubs was installed near Manhattan’s Union Square as part of the LinkNYC initiative, through which 10,000 “Links,” or kiosks, will be installed across all five boroughs.
The program sprang from the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge enacted by Mayor Bloomberg, which asked designers to envision ways to make payphones useful in the 21st century.
As described by the Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, LinkNYC is a pioneering communications network that will bring free, encrypted wi-fi with up to gigabit speeds to millions of New Yorkers, and at no cost to taxpayers. The program expects to generate more than $500 million in revenue through advertising over its first 12 years.
Features of the Link structure include digital displays which will exhibit “strategic, insight-driven advertisements and public service announcements,” a USB charger for free mobile device usage, and a minimal footprint, which will claim sidewalk space previously lost to the cumbersome payphone structures.
Designed and built from a production facility in the city, the kiosks are being made for New Yorkers, by New Yorkers. The program is expected to create over 100 full-time jobs in manufacturing, technology, and advertising, as well as an additional 650 jobs in support services.
While the first installed kiosk doesn’t work yet (it’s in the testing phase), Gothamist reports that 499 kiosks will be installed over the next six months, gradually replacing the existing payphone infrastructure, which has been obsolete for quite some time.