LinkNYC is not about free Wi-Fi; it’s about advertising

Don’t be fooled by the pretty press releases and the marketing babble: “Good-Bye Pay Phone, Hello Link! LinkNYC is a first-of-its-kind communications network that will replace over 7,500 pay phones across the five boroughs with new structures called Links. Each Link will provide superfast, free public Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging and a tablet for Internet browsing, access to city services, maps and directions.”

It’s all about advertising and ONLY about advertising.

(1) The city replaced the pay phones because people have not been using them. Most people walking around NYC have cell phones.
(2) The city wants to make money by exploiting those old pay phones. So, they hired a private firm to turn the pay phone booths into advertising centers.
(3) How many people (of the millions who visit NYC and work and live there) will stand around these “Links” when it is very cold or very hot, snowing or raining, simply to get free Wi-Fi access or to charge their devices? If that’s what they want to do, they’ll go inside (to a cafe, for example).
(4) How many people will brave these weather conditions to stand around these “Links” just to check maps and directions if they can already do this on their smart phones?

Who owns LinkNYC? CityBridge

Who is in CityBridge? Qualcomm, CIVIQ Smartscapes and Intersection

Who is Intersection? A consortium led by Sidewalk Labs (an Alphabet company), and is the result of a merger between Control Group and Titan.

Who is Alphabet? The parent company of Google, who makes most of its money from advertising.

Read these articles about the NYC payphone (advertising) project:

More bad news about the NYC payphone project

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  1. I will say that, advertising or no advertising, I am glad that the city is making efforts to improve WiFi penetration. There is even strong WiFi availability in many subway stations and it just makes day to day life a little easier. Compared to San Francisco, where, due to congestion, even getting cell phone signal is a problem in many parts of the city, NYC’s connectivity is nice.

    Zack Burt