New York has a genius plan in the works to convert defunct pay phone stations into modern wi-fi and mobile phone charging hubs. The proposal is being coined as "LinkNYC" and will provide the services above completely free of cost.
The stations, which will feature futuristic touch screens providing charging functions and directions to distinct locations within the city, will also provide a free local calling service, rendering it an absolute game-changer for those unable to afford a mobile phone or without access to modern GPS functions. So we haven't gotten our new millennium hover crafts quite yet but we are getting free access to cat gifs, which are arguably just as entertaining.
Taxpayers can breathe freely; the new techno-hubs will be completely funded by advertising dollars.
The Big Apple's decision is both wonderful and expected, as in 2011 the UN declared that having access to the Internet is a human right. We're sure to see other metropolitan cities follow suit in the coming year. Countries like Estonia and Iceland have already provided free wi-fi to the majority of their residents.
Last year, the Federal Trade Commission proposed a large-scale version of New York's impending initiative, suggesting that all metropolitan areas as well as select rural regions receive free wi-fi and the ability to make phone calls, whether they bought a coffee or not.
As reported by Washington Post, "the $178 billion wireless industry...has launched a fierce lobbying effort to persuade policymakers to reconsider the idea...That has been countered by an equally intense campaign from Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants who say a free-for-all WiFi service would spark an explosion of innovations and devices that would benefit most Americans, especially the poor."
Mhm, you don't say.
So the fact that a city with the power, prestige and influence that New York carries has made such a progressive decision is a massive win. In theory, those with wi-fi compatible devices whose homes are in close enough proximity to the "LinkNYC" hubs could avoid the hefty monthly Internet fee we've all come to know.
The only potential downside? Lack of privacy.
Such a massive shared network funded by any form of government leaves a few holes that are sure to be questioned and tested in the coming months. After the news broke in October that media company Titan had placed transmitters in various phone booths across NYC without public knowledge, it became clear just how important it is to have explicit notice of what the devices around you are being used for, and by whom.
Frankly I could care less if the city knows my Domino's order by heart, but we should all demand transparency. Even if there are cat gifs involved.
Images: Getty; Giphy (1)