New York City project promises Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds using up to 10,000 'Links'

New York City is going gaga over Wi-Fi, planning to build what it calls the fastest and largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world.

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The residential version of a Link. (Image source: LinkNYC)

Construction of the network will begin in 2015. The project is the result of a public-private partnership between the Mayor's Office of Technology and Innovation, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) and CityBridge, a New York City-based consortium whose members and extended team include Qualcomm, Transit Wireless, Control Group, Titan and Antenna Design.

Founded and based in New York City, Transit Wireless will be primarily responsible for LinkNYC's high-speed fiber infrastructure. Transit Wireless is now in the process of providing the wireless and Wi-Fi technology for 279 underground subway stations in NYC through a partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).

Municipal Wi-Fi projects that were tried years ago ended up flopping, but new efforts are being made in cities like San Jose, Calif., and San Francisco to get Wi-Fi into the hands of residents. 

New York City's five-borough network will be funded by advertising revenues and will be built at no cost to taxpayers. In fact, it's expected to generate more than $500 million in revenue for the city over the next 12 years, according to a press kit posted on the site.  Plans calls for installing up to 10,000 "Links" throughout the five boroughs.

The Links are described as "iconically" designed connection points that house state-of-the-art wireless technology, interactive systems and digital advertising displays, which will offer 24/7 free Internet access at up to gigabit speeds. They will also offer free phone calls to anywhere in the United States, free charging stations for mobile devices and more.

The organizers are talking about offering speeds more than 100 times faster than average municipal Wi-Fi and more than 20 times faster than the average home Internet service in New York City, with the ability to download a two-hour HD movie in as little as 30 seconds.

LinkNYC says it will be one of the first free municipal Wi-Fi services in the country to offer an encrypted network connection between the end-user and the hotspot. "We encourage you to continue to use end-to-end encryption, such as HTTPS, for any sensitive matters or data," the data sheet states.

It also says devices can access the network without needing to log in and out each time, making the Wi-Fi roaming experience easy to use. The network will prevent peer-to-peer security threats by eliminating the ability to communicate device-to-device.

As The Verge points out, a lot of unanswered questions remain about LinkNYC's plans, noting that the fact sheet for the venture doesn't state what Wi-Fi standard will be used or if LinkNYC plans to use a new technology that hasn't yet been deployed.  

A spokesperson for CityBridge also referred FierceWirelessTech to the online press kit, declining to identify the Wi-Fi standard to be used and saying further details will be forthcoming.

For more:
- see this Business Insider story
- see The Verge article

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