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Google plans to takeover New York City with free WiFi

Google revealed Sidewalk Labs, an independent, fully owned company earlier this year, but gave no information on the project. Today, we got some information on the subsidiary, with plans to blanket New York City in free WiFi in partnership with LinkNYC.

The creators of LinkNYC, Control Group and Titan, will be working on Intersection with Google. The plan is to create WiFi hubs with similar intentions to LinkNYC, offering an ad-supported freemium model for public WiFi.

LinkNYC is a planned project by the New York City leaders and technology groups, to remove old payphones and replace them with high-speed public WiFi pylons. These pylons will not only provide fibre optic speeds, but also 4G LTE calls, Google Maps on a tablet-style format and super-fast charging.

It will make money through targeted advertising on the side of the pylons, similar to how a bus stop would serve ads, but through a digital screen rather than wallpaper. It might also push adverts on search and other apps, although LinkNYC has not confirmed this.

LinkNYC plans to launch in the fall, adding 10,000 pylons in New York City. Having Google on board should allow LinkNYC to offer more targeted adverts, alongside better optimisation of networks.

Intersection is also build to expand public WiFi in other cities, which Sidewalk Labs speaks about in a Facebook post:

“By bringing these two industry leaders together, Intersection will help make cities connected places where you can walk down any street and access free ultra high-speed Wi-Fi, find transit and wayfinding information, access information about city services—the possibilities are endless.”

Public WiFi in the UK is still growing, with London Underground and several London areas receiving more support than the rest of the country. Virgin Media, EE and Vodafone have all been investing in public WiFi across the UK.