Qualcomm processors power free public Wi-Fi in NYC Link project

Early reviewers who raved about the speed provided by the new LinkNYC public Wi-Fi in New York City can thank Qualcomm for supplying technology that resides inside the futuristic-looking links.

Qualcomm is part of CityBridge, the group that includes Intersection and Civiq Smartscapes, that has been working with the city of New York and others to deploy the gigabit Wi-Fi. Until now, however, Qualcomm was mum about exactly how its technology was being used and by whom.

As it turns out, the Ruckus access points – specifically the Ruckus Wireless ZoneFlex 802.11ac wave 2 4x4 access points that are designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions -- are powered by Qualcomm Internet Processor IPQ8068 and QCA9990, the Qualcomm VIVE 11ac solution with Qualcomm MU | EFX multi-user technology.

In addition to free Wi-Fi, each Link is being equipped with an emergency 911 call button for direct access to a 911 operator, and Sierra Wireless' MC9090 3G modem is powered by a Qualcomm chipset, enabling first responders to track exact locations via cellular capabilities.

The networks of tomorrow are going to be much more heterogeneous and that means everything needs to work more effectively together, said Kiva Allgood, vice president of business development for smart cities and industrial IoT at Qualcomm. Her job involves working across Qualcomm's various technologies and iterations and pulling them all together in ways that make sense.

In the smart cities space, Qualcomm is focusing on four areas: smart buildings, smart transportation, infrastructure and energy. Within those areas, it's got more than 40 active projects under way, with water, lighting and infrastructure getting the most attention. "Our goal is to help empower the cities to have a scalable ecosystem," she said. "We're not selling the city anything. We're not saying buy Box A or buy Box B. We're helping them develop that connectivity road map so that it's upgradeable, interoperable" and that it works across different departments and domains.

Toward that end, partnerships are particularly important to Qualcomm, such as the one with water expert CH2M Hill. As with others, "we partner with them" for rapid prototyping and product design, and they use that to integrate into the work that they do. Qualcomm still gets its revenue from silicon, but it's opening up a lot of new opportunities for using its technologies in smart cities.

The New York Link roject includes almost everything the company makes, including the Snapdragon 600 processor. The interactive displays, which allow users to browse the Internet, access city services and use maps and directions, are all powered by this solution, which features the Qualcomm Adreno 320 graphics processing unit.

Qualcomm has been working with CityBridge on LinkNYC for almost two years on ways to upgrade the old pay phones. There are 75 active Links and they're looking at going up to 10,000 Links, both with ad displays and without displays, in the city.

Within the unit itself, users will find free Wi-Fi, nationwide calling, the 911 service, advertising also that can be used for public service announcements and USB charging ports. And bonus: The ruggedized units proved their durability by surviving the recent snow storm in New York.

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