CityBridge partners, the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and elected officials today celebrated LinkNYC’s launch in the Bronx. LinkNYC is the new, first-of-its-kind communications network replacing the city’s payphones with Wi-Fi kiosks, creating the largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network in the world. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the public launch of LinkNYC in February. Since then, more than 375 Links have been installed, including in the South Bronx and along the Grand Concourse, and LinkNYC is scaling up throughout the five boroughs.
Each Link provides New Yorkers with free, secure, fast Wi-Fi, free domestic calling, two USB charging ports, a tablet for accessing the Internet, and a red 911 button to contact emergency services. More than 400,000 people have signed up to use the free Wi-Fi, which is already used more than a million times per week, and New Yorkers use the Link kiosks for 20,000 free phone calls and approximately 60,000 tablet sessions every week. In the Bronx, more than 700 Links will be installed over the next several years as part of the 7,500 Links across the five boroughs, and tablet features on the first Bronx Links have already been used nearly 50,000 times, with more than 20,000 free phone calls made.
“LinkNYC is taking yet another giant step forward towards providing better communication access for city residents, and is an important part of our continued push for social and technological equality,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “I welcome the installation of nearly 20 kiosks that were installed in the South Bronx and along the Grand Concourse, and I look forward to the impact that the future installation of 700 kiosks will bring to the lives of our residents. I want to congratulate the leadership of the New York City Mayor’s Office, CityBridge, and DoITT, who have continued to provide more Wi-Fi kiosks throughout our borough, so that we can better communicate with one another. I would also like to thank Per Scholas for their dedication in helping nurture our youth so that they may learn and attain skills in the field of technology, helping them reach their maximum potential when they hit the job market.”
“We are inspired by the reception of LinkNYC in the Bronx,” said Anne Roest, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. “The vision of LinkNYC has always been high-speed Internet access for all New Yorkers, for all boroughs, so we are excited by the progress CityBridge has made to get us to this point. Borough President Diaz has been a great partner in this process, and I thank him for his gracious welcoming of LinkNYC as we continue to expand this project to more locations in the Bronx and throughout the city.”
“I’m elated that LinkNYC is expanding to the Bronx,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the New York City Committee on Technology. “LinkNYC is going to revolutionize communication in our City, with free public Wi-Fi and user-friendly information kiosks available to be used by anyone. I thank Mayor Bill de Blasio, Commissioner Ann Roest and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. for their efforts to bring LinkNYC to the Bronx and their commitment to a wired, tech-friendly New York City.”
“The launch of LinkNYC in the Bronx is a major step forward in strengthening the borough’s civic and commercial prosperity,” said Councilmember Fernando Cabrera. “In 2014 the Bronx had the highest proportion of households among the five boroughs that had no access to broadband at home, affecting employment, education, healthcare and more. I welcome the LinkNYC kiosk that is just outside of my district office and the critical connectivity it provides to Bronx residents.”
In November 2014, following a competitive bid process, the de Blasio Administration announced the selection of CityBridge – a consortium of companies that includes Intersection, Qualcomm, and CIVIQ Smartscapes – to develop and operate the first-of-its-kind LinkNYC network, bringing the world’s fastest public Wi-Fi to millions of New Yorkers and visitors. The five-borough network is funded entirely through advertising and will generate more than $500 million in revenue for the City.
“Launching in the Bronx is another significant milestone in the LinkNYC initiative and atremendous step towards bringing high speed broadband and access to essential services for all New Yorkers," said Brad Gleeson, Chief Commercial Officer, CIVIQ Smartscapes, which engineers and manufactures the Link structures. "We are proud to be a part of this initiative and to bring the benefits of LinkNYC's connected urban technology to the Bronx and, soon, all of New York."
CityBridge has partnered with the South Bronx-based non-profit Per Scholas, which provides free tech training skills and professional development to people who are unemployed or in low-wage jobs. To date, Per Scholas has trained more than 5,000 people in underserved communities, helping them build lasting, life-changing careers in technology. Per Scholas graduates are members of LinkNYC street teams, teaching New Yorkers and visitors how to use Link’s features.
“Per Scholas is a proud partner with LinkNYC on the public Wi-Fi launch in all the boroughs, but particularly in our homebase of the Bronx. The LinkNYC street team made up of Per Scholas graduates speaks to how important digital inclusion and community awareness is to making our city and the Bronx more connected and digitally accessible,” said Angie Kamath, Executive Director for Social Ventures & Innovation, Per Scholas.
LinkNYC’s roll out is following the installation of high-speed fiber optic cables throughout the city. Users will be able to stay connected with superfast Wi-Fi, even as they move through the five boroughs. The Administration worked closely with the Borough Presidents to determine a guaranteed number of Links in each borough – as outlined in the franchise agreement with CityBridge – to ensure this project would reach neighborhoods across the five boroughs. New Yorkers can see where Links are being installed and get more information at www.link.nyc.