In 2014 Mayor de Blasio’s administration issued a competitive Request For Proposals to repurpose New York City’s payphone infrastructure with free Wi-Fi, phone calls and advertising. The proposal for LinkNYC was chosen for its innovative and community-first approach and was awarded the 12-year franchise. LinkNYC is a first-of-its-kind communications network that will replace over 7,500 pay phones across the five boroughs with new structures called Links. Each Link will provide fast, free public Wi-Fi. In addition, LinkNYC provides free phone calls, device charging and a tablet for Internet browsing, access to city services, maps and directions. LinkNYC is free to users because it is funded through advertising that will also generate more than a half billion dollars in revenue for New York City. As cities in the U.S. and around the world search for ways to apply technology to improve civic life, this case study will distill interviews with public, private and community stakeholders to describe how LinkNYC was developed and implemented as well as to better understand the impact of its initial deployment efforts.

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