Feb. 13, 2016, from the office of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio:
“Mayor de Blasio, Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley, DoITT Commissioner Anne Roest and representatives from CityBridge today announced the public launch of LinkNYC, which is transforming the City’s old payphones into Wi-Fi kiosks to create the world’s largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network. These kiosks, called ‘Links,’ will provide New Yorkers with an incredibly fast, secure and private Wi-Fi network with a 150-foot radius, free domestic calling, two USB charging ports, a tablet for accessing the internet, and a red 911 button to contact emergency services. Overall, at least at 7,500 Links – and as many as 10,000 – will be installed across the five boroughs….
“’Today New York becomes the second largest tech sector city with the fastest free Wi-Fi in the world,’ said Counsel to the Mayor Maya Wiley. ‘And today is the day we take a bite out of the broadband bill for New Yorkers, at no cost to the taxpayers. With this hotspot, this city takes an important step toward a fairer distribution of broadband service.
Aug. 14, 2016, from the New York Times:
“After months of complaints from residents, businesses and other elected officials, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, conceded that combining unfettered internet access with free Wi-Fi was a recipe for bad behavior.
“Now, yielding to complaints, the operator of the kiosks, LinkNYC network, is shutting off their internet browsers, but not their other functions, while it works out a Plan B with city officials….
“Users were expected to make short stops at the kiosks. But the sites quickly attracted homeless people and other idle users who took full advantage of the unlimited access to the internet to turn the kiosks into al fresco living rooms, watching movies and playing music for hours.
“’People are congregating around these Links to the point where they’re bringing furniture and building little encampments clustered around them,’ said Barbara A. Blair, president of the Garment District Alliance, a business group in Manhattan….
“Councilman Corey Johnson, a Democrat whose district encompasses Greenwich Village, Chelsea and part of Midtown, said police officials had asked for the removal of ‘several problematic kiosks’ along Eighth Avenue. He said he had observed people watching pornography on the kiosk screens with children nearby.”