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Forget pay phones, New York City bets on free Wi-Fi

·Anchor

Forget ducking inside cafés for access to free Wi-Fi. New York City is unveiling the first of its next generation public phone stations that will give you free access to the Internet.

The project, called LinkNYC, is run by CityBridge, a joint venture between Qualcomm (QCOM), CIVIQ Smartscapes, and Intersection, which is backed by Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL).

The new hot spots, called Links, will provide a variety of services, including high-speed Internet access, cell phone charging, free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S. using the Vonage app, and Web browsing.

Colin O’Donnell, of LinkNYC and CityBridge, said the new kiosks will be the fastest and largest free municipal network worldwide.

The first installation was spotted near Manhattan’s Union Square. New York City plans to install a total of 7,500 high-tech Wi-Fi kiosks throughout the five boroughs. Approximately 500 hubs will be installed by July.

The hubs, which were first announced in November 2014, boast speeds of up to one gigabyte per second and are funded by advertising.

“Investors are spending $200 million on this project over the next eight years to transform the city,” said Yahoo Finance markets reporter Nicole Sinclair in the video above. “Selling ad space on these kiosks will be an important part in getting some return for this project.”

Each kiosk features two 55-inch HD displays for public service announcements and advertising. The Wall Street Journal reports that the project has several advertising contracts in place, but CityBridge has declined to identify the marketers.

New York City expects to generate about $500 million during the 12-year contact.