The next time you're in New York City, you'll notice a one-time iconic fixture found on virtually every city street is disappearing. This isn't a relic you'll be sorry to see go, though.
The once ubiquitous payphone that dotted New York City's streets, and streets in towns and cities around the world, are being replaced. In fact, if you're a frequent traveler, or a New York resident, you'll be able to find Wi-Fi hotspots where payphones used to be.
LinkNYC is replacing those old coin-operated phones with super high-speed, gigabyte Wi-Fi hotspots call CityBridge. In fact, just this week it installed its first one. Eventually, there will be 7,500 LinkNYC Wi-Fi hotspots around the city.
You'll be able to connect to the Internet for free from your Internet-connected smartphone, tablet, computer, or smartwatch. You don't have to stand at the Wi-Fi hotspots, either. You can access the free Wi-Fi from 150 feet away.
But, unlike old payphones, you'll want to get up close to LinkNYC's Wi-Fi hotspots. They'll have charging stations, which are lifesavers for travelers. And, in time, they'll have touch-screen tablets, so you can search online for places to eat, get theater reviews and make free phone calls.
It's all free. LinkNYC will make money, an expected $500 million a year, by selling two ads on 55-inch digital displays at each CityBridge location.
CityBridge falls right into New York state's ambitious plans to make high-speed Internet available to everyone. By 2019, New York governor Andrew Cuomo plans to have completed a $1 billion Broadband Program, funded by the state and private companies.
That will give all New York residents access to a minimum broadband speed of 100Mbps.That is four times the minimum standard expected to be set by the Federal Communications Commission.
What's the catch? CityBridge and its parent company, Titan Outdoor, will collect quite a bit of information about you. They promise to keep your information anonymous, and to not sell it to anyone.
However, the information they collect is a mouthful. That includes user names, passwords, IP address, email address, device identifiers and more.
Note: Be sure to keep your digital devices and identity safe when you're online. Visit the Komando Security Center for tips, including creating strong passwords and anti-virus programs.