The saga of the LinkNYC Wi-Fi project’s dispute with Telebeam isn’t over. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted Telebeam’s motion for an injunction pending appeal in Telebeam’s lawsuit against the city of New York, the Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), and CityBridge LLC. This means that Telebeam does not have to transfer its payphones to CityBridge until the appellate court has reviewed the lower court’s decision.
In July 2016, Judge Nina Gershon (US District Court for the Eastern District of New York) ruled against Telebeam on motions for summary judgement filed by Telebeam and the defendants. In her ruling, she stated that New York City did not violate federal law when it awarded the franchise to convert the city’s payphones into Wi-Fi enabled digital advertising kiosks to only one firm (a consortium called CityBridge LLC).
Prior to the LinkNYC Wi-Fi project, several companies (including Telebeam) owned a network of payphones across New York City; they had franchise agreements with the city, pursuant to which they installed and upgraded the payphones, and placed advertising around them.
After the city granted the LinkNYC franchise to CityBridge, all of the payphone franchisees, except Telebeam, sold their equipment to CityBridge. They dismantled the payphone booths and installed Wi-Fi enabled digital advertising kiosks, which one can see all around New York City today.
Telebeam filed a lawsuit against New York City, the DoITT and CityBridge on grounds that the city violated the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 by awarding the franchise to only one company, but it lost on motions for summary judgement in July 2016 (the Gershon ruling). Telebeam decided to appeal Judge Gershon’s ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the the latter agreed to hear the appeal. More importantly, the appellate court issued an injunction prohibiting the city from forcing Telebeam to transfer its payphones to CityBridge until it has heard both sides and issued its own ruling.