Sources: Ruckus is supplier of Wi-Fi gear for ambitious NYC project

The vendor supplying up to 10,000 802.11ac access points for New York City's LinkNYC is Ruckus Wireless, the same company that is supplying Wi-Fi gear for cities like San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., albeit on a much smaller scale, sources close to the matter say.

Earlier this week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration announced the selection of CityBridge to develop and operate the LinkNYC project. CityBridge is a consortium of companies that includes Qualcomm, Titan, Comark and Control Group. CityBridge's extended team includes Transit Wireless and Antenna Design.

A spokeswoman told FierceWirelesTech that CityBridge was unable to comment on Ruckus' role in the project. The city's Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications spokesman could not immediately confirm Ruckus' participation. A spokesman for Ruckus Wireless would not comment.

Ruckus offers dual-band 802.11ac outdoor access points (AP) designed explicitly for high density public venues, such plazas and malls, and other dense urban environments, including the type that would be used in harsh outdoor environments. Its Smart Wi-Fi equipment, which is Passpoint certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is being used to power the Hotspot 2.0 service across both San Jose and San Francisco Wi-Fi networks.

According to the LinkNYC website, LinkNYC will be the fastest and largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world. As part of the plan, public pay telephones will be replaced with "iconically designed" Links, where residents can make free phone calls in the U.S. and get free 24/7 Internet access at gigabit speeds.

The service promises the ability to download a two-hour HD movie in as little as 30 seconds. Digital displays will show advertising and public service announcements. The Links will house "state-of-the-art" wireless technology, interactive systems and digital advertising displays. 

This is likely a big win for Ruckus, which is continuing to ramp up work with municipalities across the country. While other Wi-Fi projects are being conducted in cities like San Jose and San Francisco, those are on a smaller scale and do not involve the same concept as New York's, using old phone booths converted into space-age type kiosks.

Municipal Wi-Fi was all the rage a decade or so ago, but few projects succeeded, as CCS Insight analyst Peter Bryer writes in this blog. Analysts at CCS say municipalities and their partners often underestimated the complexities and overestimated the benefits of their Wi-Fi plans, with the majority of them lacking clarity around financing and charging.

"If the concept of a profit-generating, free wireless network sounds naively optimistic, it's worth pointing out that it's different this time," Bryer writes. "The hardware goes further and does more, and there are a lot more devices and services around to enjoy the free ride." In addition, residents and tourists could get used to it, as could companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Uber. "These service providers know about zero-rating," or subsidized data, enabling free access to their sites, he writes. 

New York's plans are ambitious and revolve heavily around advertising--something the city apparently thinks its residents and visitors can withstand more of. The network is funded through advertising revenues and is expected to generate more than $500 million in revenue for the city over the next 12 years, according to the project's media data sheet. Construction of the network will begin in 2015.

Related articles:
New York City project promises Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds using up to 10,000 'Links'
Ruckus helps San Francisco, San Jose launch public Hotspot 2.0 Wi-Fi service
Time Warner announces massive Hotspot 2.0 deployment
Confirmed: Hotspot 2.0 is on Comcast's roadmap for its Xfinity Wi-Fi network