Titan to Manage New NYC Wireless Public Net

NEW YORK – A network of up to 10,000 wireless hotspots, all paired with out-of-home ad-display screens, will be available throughout the city and managed by Titan under a non-exclusive franchise agreement announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio today.

Don’t start looking tomorrow for the nearest place in the five boroughs to hook up online, though. The first kiosks for access – replacing locations for that modern anachronism, the public pay telephone – won’t be in place until late next year.

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The LinkNYC network, to be funded through advertising revenues, is estimated to generate more than $500 million in revenue for the city through 2027.

The network franchise is set to be awarded to CityBridge, a consortium of companies providing technology, materials and management during the contract.

Link kiosks (identified as “structures” in the proposal) will be placed in locations formerly occupied by public telephones. Designed by Antenna Design New York Inc.’s Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslinger, the units will provide all-hours free Internet wireless access with up to gigabyte speeds and free charging stations for mobile devices.

An Android-tablet-based touchscreen on the kiosk will offer access to city services, 911 emergency communications and, in an ironic reference to the technology it’s replacing, free telephone calls to anywhere in the United States.

The locations will also feature large digital displays for showing advertising, as well as public service announcements.

With the four main companies involved with CityBridge, Titan will oversee the network’s operations and manage the advertising. Comark of Milford, Mass., will design, engineer and manufacture the structures; New York-based Control Group will develop the technology. Qualcomm Inc. will serve as a technology developer on wireless.

“With LinkNYC, we have the opportunity to set the new standard in how municipalities deliver Wi-Fi to residents while reinventing the digital-advertising sector, enabling the city to generate millions in new revenue,” said Dave Etherington, Titan’s Chief Strategy Officer. “We are proud to serve as the managing member of CityBridge and honored to work with New York City to make LinkNYC a reality.”

“Comark’s expertise in building rugged user-friendly structures will help to ensure that New Yorkers will have a seamless communications experience when using the Links across the city,” said Steve Schott, Comark president/CEO. “We specifically engineered our terminals to work in the varied weather and physical environs around NYC, and we are deeply committed to not only creating jobs but also creating Links that will stand the test of time.”

Construction of the network is scheduled to begin early next year, but it’s not going to be until 4Q 2014 that locations are anticipated to go online.

“This administration has been committed to expanding affordable access to broadband for all New Yorkers from the outset, “de Blasio said in announcing the CityBridge selection. “It’s essential for everything we need to do to be a fair and just city, because we can’t continue to have a digital divide that holds back so many of our citizens.

“With this proposal for the fastest and largest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world – accessible to and free for all New Yorkers and visitors alike – we’re taking a critical step toward a more equal, open and connected city – for every New Yorker, in every borough.”

While CityBridge made the final cut in proposals for New York’s network, there’s still one more municipal step. The city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) has the responsibility for reviewing and approving proposed franchises and will hold a public hearing before taking a vote.