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posted by LaminatorX on Wednesday November 19 2014, @05:29PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the Why?-Fie! dept.

The NYT reports that city officials say that beginning in 2015 thousands of payphones across New York City will be converted into Wi-Fi hot spots, providing free Internet access, free domestic calls using cellphones or a built-in keypad, a charging station for mobile devices and access to city services and directions. “It’s going to help us close the digital divide,” says Maya Wiley, counsel to the mayor, noting that low-income people, particularly blacks and Latinos, rely disproportionately on cellphone browsing to get online (PDF) and data charges can add up. The network will be 100 times as fast as average municipal Wi-Fi systems, so a two-hour movie can be downloaded in about 30 seconds. The kiosks’ Wi-Fi range will extend 150 feet in any direction and up to 250 devices will be able to use the network at each kiosk without diminishing service. The city hopes to install about 10,000 kiosks, each about 9.5 feet high and less than a foot wide. The first 500 CityBridge sites will be available by late 2015 to early 2016, with the construction expected to go on for six years. The contract would last for 15 years.

A successful pilot project has been in operation since 2012 but some elected officials have expressed reservations about the city’s decision to entrust the final product to CityBridge, a consortium made up of companies including Qualcomm, Comark, Control Group and Titan calling it a monopolistic arrangement. “Instead of trying to rush the process, the administration should seek a new authorizing resolution from the City Council that contemplates multiple companies,” says Letitia James, the city’s public advocate. For her part, Wiley says that she is prepared for lawsuits against the city. “In my legal opinion,” says Wiley, “this is the coolest thing ever.”

Related Stories

New York City to Install 7,500 Wi-Fi Kiosks 18 comments

New York City plans to replace sidewalk pay phones with Wi-Fi kiosks that include built-in tablets and phone chargers:

In New York City, the future is calling. New York City is saying goodbye to sidewalk pay phones, and hello to free Wi-Fi kiosks. Plans call for installing 7,500 of them. "This is going to be the fastest and largest free municipal network in the world," said Colin O'Donnell, the chief technology officer for CityBridge, which is partnering with the city to replace the old pay phones with high speed internet. They're called Links: slabs that look like fancy mall directories, but are actually hubs for Wi-Fi that can reach as far as 400 feet, about a block and a half. They'll include built-in tablet computers, and phone chargers. You can use them to call anywhere in the U.S. for free.

The first is already installed on a corner in the city's East Village, though it hasn't been switched on yet. Sitting at a Starbucks a few feet away, grad student Aliyah Guttmann said she's a fan. "It's interesting," she said. "I mean it's going to be more useful than a pay phone now." But she's not sure how much she'll use it. "I'm not going to be sitting outside with my computer on the Wi-Fi connecting to that and working there," she said.

To pay for the new system, the kiosks will have ads, big ones, right there on the sidewalk. O'Donnell says those ads will raise enough to cover the free stuff, with money left over for the company and the city. City officials say all the free Wi-Fi fits with their mission to give more poor people access to the internet.

We first saw this mentioned over a year ago.


Original Submission

New York Wi-Fi Kiosks Have Had Over 5 Million Users 2 comments

New York City's WiFi kiosks have over 5 million users

New York City's high-speed WiFi kiosks have been around for a while, but just how many people are using them? Quite a few, in fact. The LinkNYC team has revealed that there were over 5 million registered WiFi users as of September 2018, with over a billion sessions spread across the 1,700-plus units in the city. People make over 500,000 calls every month, too, although it's not clear how many of those were ice cream truck pranksters. You can safely presume that there's plenty of demand.

As VentureBeat reported, though, these kiosks haven't been without their share of concerns. They're ad-subsidized, but they've barely earned enough to meet the CityBridge consortium's minimum guarantee. The group also removed the kiosks' web browsers after complains of people surfing porn sites or hogging the machines. There's also the concerns about privacy given the presences of cameras and sensors on every kiosk, although Intersection (a part of CityBridge) has stressed that it doesn't collect sensitive info like exact locations or browser history.

Previously: Ten Thousand NYC Pay Phones to Become Free Wi-Fi Hot Spots
New York City to Install 7,500 Wi-Fi Kiosks


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Wednesday November 19 2014, @05:51PM

    by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday November 19 2014, @05:51PM (#117760) Journal

    That means when all those people try to download that movie in 30 seconds all at once.... the whole thing goes to 14.4 modem speeds for all.

    It'll be interesting to see how viable this actually is once it gets implemented as more than a relatively small pilot.

    One question that I could not find the answers for in the linked articles was what piece of the spectrum is it going to run on? 2.4GHz? 5GHz? Will it only be 802.11ac? Gigabit speeds would almost require that.

    An interesting project for sure.

    --
    "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by GungnirSniper on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:24PM

      by GungnirSniper (1671) on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:24PM (#117775) Journal

      I'm seeing plenty of semi-open Comcast routers for their free (piggybacked) WiFi around my area, and it doesn't seem to be causing disruption to others using it because so few actually will download or stream on it.

      • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:54PM

        by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:54PM (#117801) Journal

        I would agree, but in TFS there is reference to the use of this in poorer neighborhoods where cellular access and data are the primary avenue of internet access. Get enough people on it, OR have people streaming Netflix, Hulu, etc, over it and you will start to see issues.

        Get some people with 802.11b/g only phones and it slows the response of the AP to all the devices on that node. I'm also curious as to the setup from the wireless side. Are they killing off any tech short of 802.11n? OR will tehy allow users on for 802.11a and 802.11g, but kill off all 802.11b devices?

        So many unanswered questions. And what limited Googeling that I have done has not revealed much info as to how these hot spots are set up.

        --
        "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday November 20 2014, @12:19AM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 20 2014, @12:19AM (#117918) Journal

          This slow-down with mixed bg on N is a figment of older routers with insufficient antennas.
          It it not necessarily going to be a problem with newer routers with multiple independent antenna arrays.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by cmn32480 on Thursday November 20 2014, @04:35PM

            by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Thursday November 20 2014, @04:35PM (#118155) Journal

            That is only correct is they are using multiple antenna arrays (like you would find on a cellular tower). It they are using a single set of antenna arrays in the unit, you are subject to massive congestion and slowdowns from older devices. Using older devices you will find that the data push is less due to the limitations of g wireless and the AP having to change transmission techologies to accommodate them.

            The data throughput with 802.11ac on the 5GHz spectrum does not have an equivalent in the 802.11b/g/n on the 2.4GHz spectrum due to the massive difference in the number of available channels.

            The only devices that are going to see the "Gigabit" wireless that is touted in the article are the newest 802.11ac devices. Anybody who buys a laptop or tablet with only 802.11n or that has a device that is a year or two old but is perfectly serviceable is going to be stuck.

            --
            "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
            • (Score: 2) by frojack on Thursday November 20 2014, @09:18PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 20 2014, @09:18PM (#118248) Journal

              It they are using a single set of antenna arrays in the unit,

              First there is no such thing as a Single Set of Arrays. Its self contradictory.

              Some models of APs have solved this problem by segregating the channels.

              Second, Worst case ALL you need it two APs/antennas, One cheap as dirt one for B/G, and one for N.

              This prevents slowing down N when a BG connects. B/G only devices need never be offered the ability to associate with those frequencies that are reserved for use with N.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Kilo110 on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:00PM

    by Kilo110 (2853) on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:00PM (#117764)

    Yup, I'm sure the government will absolutely not use it to track every phone/person in the city. Nope. Never.

    /sarcasm

    • (Score: 2, Informative) by bob_super on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:16PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:16PM (#117773)

      31 minutes from story post to first Gubmint Paranoia post... bit slower than I had guessed.

      Seriously, how much more spying information will this provide compared to the existing phone/WiFi networks, when most people have unsafe OS/apps and GPS on?
      The NSA would likely be interested (MOAR DATA!), but I doubt there's much actual value, regardless of the intended conspiracy use.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Kilo110 on Wednesday November 19 2014, @07:25PM

        by Kilo110 (2853) on Wednesday November 19 2014, @07:25PM (#117809)

        So you don't see the potential for abuse here?

        I doubt NYC officials have access to NSA or Apple's data, but they can probably access this without much issue.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Tork on Wednesday November 19 2014, @09:30PM

        by Tork (3914) on Wednesday November 19 2014, @09:30PM (#117859)
        Why does that data have to be of value for NSA spying to be bad?
        --
        Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20 2014, @01:23AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20 2014, @01:23AM (#117936)

        It doesn't matter if it is valuable to the NSA, it matters if it is valuable to the people to the people being spyed on.

        Pervasive surveillance stifles free thought. If you know someone is looking over your shoulder, recording everything they see you do, it doesn't matter how innocent your actions are the weight of their stare is a drag that will restrain you.

        • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Thursday November 20 2014, @03:43AM

          by cafebabe (894) on Thursday November 20 2014, @03:43AM (#117983) Journal

          It is better to frame the argument in terms of false positives and false negatives. A false negative is devastating but rare. However, false positives are adversely affecting innocent people on a daily basis. For example, a wife searching for pressure cookers and a husband searching for rucksacks led to a SWAT team busting down their door because, like, that's what terrorists search for.

          --
          1702845791×2
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20 2014, @04:27AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 20 2014, @04:27AM (#117994)

            > It is better to frame the argument in terms of false positives and false negatives.

            Is it? Only if the people you are talking to have never felt the yoke of social disapproval before.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:35PM (#117785)

    After the fake outrage a few weeks ago with Titan and the (probably) city approved bluetooth tracking, will this reappear in a similar form?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19 2014, @06:50PM (#117797)

      > Will the city prohibit tracking in contract?

      I can't see that happening. While I have not read the details I am simply unable to imagine a commercial enterprise that hasn't factored in tracking as their primary source of revenue. I bet we'll find that they even go so far as to block access to TOR and well known VPN services in order to protect their business model. I expect it will be spun as stopping copyright terrorists.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday November 19 2014, @08:29PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 19 2014, @08:29PM (#117833) Journal

    I've been working on an app for the homeless in NYC. basically we take donated smartphones, flash them, and install our app to help them find what they need, communicate, and stay connected. one of the challenges has been connectivity. we were thinking of implementing ad-hoc mesh networking a la FireChat, but this would make it much easier.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19 2014, @08:49PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 19 2014, @08:49PM (#117844)

      Free and ubiquitous wifi is an enormously valuable public good, like game-changing in scope for all classes of society. But it has the potential to literally decimate the profits of the wireless phone companies so we can expect them to go full-frontal on it at a level that makes the net-neutrality fight look like a game of 3rd-grade dodgeball.

  • (Score: 2) by WillR on Wednesday November 19 2014, @08:44PM

    by WillR (2012) on Wednesday November 19 2014, @08:44PM (#117841)
    In other news, there are still ten thousand pay phones in NYC. Are that many left in the rest of the US combined?