As Crain’s first reported, the first of the city’s upcoming 7,500 LinkNYC Wi-Fi kiosks have officially rolled out today. Two new “links” (as they’ll be called), have sprouted up along Third Avenue in the East Village, one at the corner of East 15th Street and the other at East 17th Street. Each kiosk measures 9.5 feet tall and will be equipped with a gigabit-speed Wi-Fi connection with a 150-foot range, charging stations, a touch-screen that provides maps and info about city services, and a speaker phone that will let users make domestic calls—and all for free! The kiosks are meant to replace NYC’s 6,000 now-defunct pay phones.
Remember the good old days of frantically running around looking for a pay phone and then realizing you were out of change and had to make a collect call? Well, that’s soon to be nothing more than a distant memory, as New York City is turning its remaining pay phone booths into forward-looking tech hubs that include free 24-hour WiFi, free domestic calls, charging stations, and touch screens with access to city services and directions. Officially dubbed LinkNYC, they’ll also be able to connect people with emergency responders and broadcast city alerts during emergencies like Hurricane Sandy.