New York City's WiFi kiosks have over 5 million users

It turns out that people want fast internet access on the street.

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Jon Fingas
September 30th, 2018
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New York City's high-speed WiFi kiosks have been around for a while, but just how many people are using them? Quite a few, in fact. The LinkNYC team has revealed that there were over 5 million registered WiFi users as of September 2018, with over a billion sessions spread across the 1,700-plus units in the city. People make over 500,000 calls every month, too, although it's not clear how many of those were ice cream truck pranksters. You can safely presume that there's plenty of demand.

As VentureBeat reported, though, these kiosks haven't been without their share of concerns. They're ad-subsidized, but they've barely earned enough to meet the CityBridge consortium's minimum guarantee. The group also removed the kiosks' web browsers after complains of people surfing porn sites or hogging the machines. There's also the concerns about privacy given the presences of cameras and sensors on every kiosk, although Intersection (a part of CityBridge) has stressed that it doesn't collect sensitive info like exact locations or browser history.

The kiosks are likely to have a long life, as Intersection's LinkNYC contract lasts until 2026. Whether or not they continue to see healthy adoption is another story. Now that mobile 5G is on the horizon, many New Yorkers could have gigabit-class (or at least, close enough) speeds in their pockets within the next few years. They'll likely have their uses, particularly for visitors, but they might not be as alluring as personal internet access catches up.

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