New Yorkers may soon have access to $200 million worth of free Wi-Fi hotspots, thanks to a Google supported startup called Sidewalk Labs. The company hopes to improve city life through technology and said it plans to make Wi-Fi hotspots out of the city’s existing payphones.
Sidewalk is one of several investor groups purchasing two New York companies that are leading the charge to turn 11,000 existing and disused payphone sites into information kiosks and Wi-Fi hotspots which would supply Wi-Fi connections within a 150 ft circumference. The kiosks would also provide free phone call ability nationwide and have interactive screen access to local services and information.
The free service would be paid for by advertisements displayed on the interactive screens with part of the projected $500 million advertising revenue going to the City.
Dan Doctoroff,CEO of Sidewalk Labs said former deputy mayor of New York said “by integrating new technologies into existing infrastructure, cities can reinvent these assets – providing not just more modern, free services to citizens but even more revenue to cities.”
Google CEO Larry Page whose company is helping bankroll the project said Sidewalk Labs was similar to Google X, the lab within Google that was concentrating on “moonshot” projects like self driving cars and a network of internet-connected balloons to provide communication access networks to remote areas.
It is expected the New York Sidewalk Labs project will take 12 years to complete. The company has plans to roll out similar projects in other cities.