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NYC to replace most of its payphones with free gigabit WiFi in 2015

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Can you remember the last time you used a payphone? Neither can we. Public telephones are an outmoded piece of our communication infrastructure, and NYC is ready to replace them. The city has been toying with the idea for years, and today it finally announced its final plans: LinkNYC -- a network of 10,000 gigabit WiFi hotspots that will line the streets of all five boroughs of New York City. The project will replace all but a small handful of historic payphones with "Links," small towers equipped with WiFi, an Android tablet with select city-service apps and, of course, the ability to make phone calls. What's missing? The word pay: it's all free.

In addition to being modern communication hubs, the Links will serve as digital billboards. The city expects to pull in more than $500 million in advertising revenue over the next 12 years, both offsetting the networks $200 million construction cost and helping pay for maintenance. The design for the new Links are final, but CityBridge, the consortium behind the project, say that there will be multiple designs -- louder, flashy Links for commercial areas, and more subtle towers for residential areas. The rollout is bound to be gradual, but CityBridge says construction is due to begin sometime next year.

[Image credit: CityBridge]

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