NYC is about to expand its 5G coverage by installing nearly 2,000 internet kiosks across its boroughs, specifically in underserved areas.
These kiosks, which are about three stories tall at 32 feet, will join the LinkNYC kiosks that provide free wi-fi and calling on the sidewalks, bringing the total LinkNYC network to at least 4,000 locations citywide. The plan is to install these Link5G kiosks by 2026 with 90% of them in the outer boroughs and above Manhattan's 96th Street.
These pillars will give free 5G service to New Yorkers with phone plans that have the ability to connect to the high-speed service. Each one will also have the ability to host telecom companies' services, like 5G from AT&T and Verizon, for a price. These companies would essentially rent out the poles, bringing in revenue.
Like their predecessors, the Link5Gs will have free Wi-Fi, a 911 button, USB ports, a tablet, calling capabilities and advertising displays, The City says.
The kiosks are going to be operated as a public-private partnership by consortium CityBridge, the same group behind LinkNYC.
The installation has already begun on the Bronx's West Burnside Avenue in Morris Heights, according to amNewYork, which attended a press conference about Link5G on Sunday.
“Accessible broadband and phone service isn’t a luxury — it’s a necessity," Mayor Eric Adams said. "These new LinkNYC 5G kiosks are going to finally help to close the digital divide and expand and improve mobile technology coverage all over this city. When it comes to digital services, we know that too many New Yorkers have been left behind. Our administration is committed to changing that and ensuring that all of our city’s residents have access to tech services, no matter where they live."
The "ulta-fast" network speed and expanded mobile coverage will help bridge the technological divide, according to CTO and Office of Technology and Innovation Commissioner Matthew Fraser. Priority for new kiosks will be given to "specified equity community districts" that were chosen based on lack of other broadband options, lower median annual incomes, lack of existing LinkNYC infrastructure and high levels of pedestrian and street traffic.
“As New York City continues its post-pandemic revival, Link5G’s ultra-fast network speed and expanded mobile coverage will go a long way toward clearing the technological barriers so many New Yorkers encountered over the past few years," he said. "In addition, Link5G’s equity-centered rollout has the potential to lift up entire neighborhoods and communities that have languished as digital deserts amid this century’s rapid tech advances."
According to amNewYork, the poles have cameras on them but they will not be on all the time. Fraser told the publication that data gathered by the poles will be used in an “acceptable" way.
“We want to make sure that the public feels safe leveraging these devices, and their information is only used in ways that’s acceptable,” Fraser said. “In terms of surveillance tech, there’s nothing in the devices outside of a camera,” he added. “It’s activated in the event that, periodically it’s not on 24/7, but there’s nothing other than that.”