NYC's New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

NYC's New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

Today, the first of New York City's public, gigabit wifi hotspots opened to the public. I tried them, so take it from me: They're insanely fast. How fast? Fast enough that Starbucks' free internet is about to get killed.

Earlier this month, we reported on LinkNYC, the Big Apple's initiative to roll out breakneck internet access to everyone. Today, the first four modules are open in beta mode to the public.

The 3m-tall rectangles, which are replacing the city's pay phones, feature USB outlets for charging your devices (actual charger not included), city maps, 911 emergency access, and video calls to anywhere in the country. And, of course, wi-fi.

Fast wi-fi. I ran internet speed tests at various locations this morning, with the goal of comparing a NYCLink location (at 15th Street and 3rd Avenue) to other common spots where I often score free wi-fi. Those included a Starbucks, a New York City subway platform that offers gratis wireless, and the Gawker Media offices. The winner? LinkNYC. It wasn't even close. Like, at all.

Here're the results of a test I ran on the LinkNYC public wifi:

NYC's New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

And at the Starbucks located right next to the Link:

NYC's New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

Finally, from the F and M train platform at 14th Street:

NYC's New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

LinkNYC is ten times faster than New York's existing public internet, and infinitesimally quicker than Starbucks.

With city internet that fast, what's going to happen to Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, Panera, or other establishments whose complementary wifi is such a pull? After all, if you want to work or study at a place that isn't the library or your house, you pretty much have to buy a mocha and camp out. And with the sheer number of Links that New York is planning to install — 7,500 units in the next 12 years — it could mean that you and your devices will never be outside a serviceable zone.

NYC's New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

Still. These things aren't designed to have people convene in front of them to stream Orange Is the New Black en masse. (Although the folks at LinkNYC have said the system can handle that.) They're designed for temporary, fleeting experiences: checking your email, downloading a map of the city, making a quick Skype call.

NYC's New Public Wifi Is Obscenely Fast

Whether LinkNYC will complicate the city's relationship with chains and businesses remains to be seen. For now, the units are still being tested (911, calls, and maps aren't yet available), and they seem to be advertisers more than anything, with signs hawking Coors Light and Citibank. You can use the wi-fi, of course — you just need to input an email address. (LinkNYC says that it will never give out private user information.) And in case you're wondering, no sites are blocked from the network. Want to download some sleaze on a park bench? Go for it...I guess?

For now, the city wants to open up ten new Links a day, with the goal of 500 running by July. Let the mass, ultra-fast streaming begin.



    How much more backwards is Australia looking every single day?
    Way to go NYC!

      My internet has been pretty good lately, did a speed test and it was at 7mbps. My stomach actually dropped when I saw those numbers above.

      We have had free Telstra wifi around the country at hot spots for a year or so.
      Melbourne city is chock full of them.
      So we are not exactly backwards, the pink topped telephone booths - Telstra Air.

        I'm pretty sure they're only for Telstra customers who have a Telstra Air account. So it's not exactly free.

        Also it's more of the speed thing he's talking about anyway.

          Yeah thanks for picking that up it's the speed I was commenting on mainly.
          Just tested mine again Adelaide CBD 11.14Mbps download but upload of 0.68Mbps!!
          And I have to pay through the nose for that!

            Wow, and that's in the heart of Adelaide? That's atrocious.

            I got an notice in the mail to say NBN was coming to my area the other day, got really excited for it. Seeing this post makes me want to puke all over it and address it "return to sender".

            Last edited 20/01/16 2:35 pm

            That's pretty bad, I don't remember exactly but before they took it away from the general public I hit something in the range of ~45Mbps down and ~5Mbps up.

    And here I am walking along wondering why my Spotify keeps buffering.... "oh goddamnit, my phone auto connected to free public wifi again!".

    Holy fudging shit, and here I am with my ~8mbps internet waiting for an NBN that might get me 24mbps thinking I'm doing well.

    They're getting a speed of over 50 times what I've got...

    You mean to tell me I have to pay 120+ dollars a month for this crap, when they can go download a 36GB game from Steam and it take only 12 damn minutes?!

      You mean to tell me I have to pay 120+ dollars a month for this crap, when they can go download a 36GB game from Steam and it take only 12 damn minutes?!
      More than likely and because it is public Wi-Fi, it would have a session timeout which prevents you from exceeding a set bandwidth quota or time limit (whichever comes first). I know when Telstra Air was available to everyone to use; I got kicked off after 30 minutes.

      Last edited 20/01/16 5:01 pm

      The capacity of the network is 50 times what you get. Wait till there's a couple thousand people connecting to it. This is New York after all.

    I wonder how much out of pocket the New York City residents get taxed for the benefit of free Wi-Fi.

    Last edited 20/01/16 5:09 pm

      LinkNYC generates its own revenue through advertising, sponsorships and partnerships, ensuring that LinkNYC will come at no cost to users or taxpayers and will be well maintained. LinkNYC will also generate more than half of a billion dollars in revenue for the City of New York.

    The Vic government have just launched their large scale wifi in bendigo and ballarat. I was in bendigo last week and was getting 50mbps+ in a lot of places. Apparently they are now rolling out all over Melbourne!! Screw Telstra's Air - I cant afford to be with Telstra so no Air for me (or a lot of others i guess).

    "Infinitesimal" = extremely small

    Irregardless, it's fast :P

    If you're not paying for it, you are the product.

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