Link5G has begun installing 32-foot poles around New York City for 5G networks. Putting one of these on essentially every block would create the best wireless network in the world. It would outclass most fiber networks deployed so far. I’m confident the technology will work, but the economics are unproven.
Paul Baran, the genius who first imagined packet switching and the Internet, was ahead of his time building an “every block” wireless network in the 1990’s. His company Ricochet put 28-56K mesh nodes on every block in my neighborhood near Columbia U. It was the fastest available connection until cable modems came along.
ZenFi Networks has raised hundreds of millions to start construction, working with CityBridge, Intersection, and probably Google. Thousands of much shorter LinkNYC kiosks were deployed for Wi-Fi, but the company couldn’t survive on advertising.
The city has now granted an expanded franchise and ZenFi Networks has committed $200,000,000. The city Public Design Commission approved the Link5G design for commercial and manufacturing areas but not yet for residential areas.
They’ve put out some information (below) so they are not completely in stealth mode. I understand what’s possible. They haven’t been explicit about their plans, however.
Greg Sandoval has a good piece with some history.
I’ll have more after I meet with them.
Picture from a video by Mark Thomas from Payphone Project https://www.payphone-project.com/the-new-link5g-linknyc-skyscrapers-close-up-video.html
Here’s some of the promotion
ZenFi Networks Celebrates Expansion Plans for LinkNYC
Multiple Gigabit Centers and construction of additional fiber set to help bridge the digital divide, increasing wireless connectivity across NYC boroughs
May 09, 2022 08:36 AM Eastern Daylight Time
NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–ZenFi Networks, an innovative leader of digital infrastructure solutions in the New York and New Jersey metro region, today celebrated expansion of its mission to bridge the digital divide throughout the New York City metro area. ZenFi Networks is currently partnered with CityBridge, which operates one of the world’s largest public Wi-Fi networks, LinkNYC. ZenFi Networks is deploying, operating, and expanding free public Wi-Fi, utilizing LinkNYC smart public communications structures across New York City to ensure reliable 5G network connectivity. As part of its agreement with the City of New York, CityBridge is obligated to develop publicly accessible digital facilities that can create the potential for social good and is well on its way to fulfilling that responsibility in partnership with ZenFi Networks.
@ZenFi_Networks celebrates expansion plans for @LinkNYC, one of the world’s largest public Wi-Fi networks operated by @CityBridgeEdu, to ensure reliable 5G network connectivity and help bridge the digital divide in the New York City metro area.Tweet this
In February of this year, ZenFi Networks attended a ribbon cutting event at the Silicon Harlem Gigabit Center to celebrate the first Gigabit Center in New York City. The Gigabit Center is the first of its kind, and is set to provide high-speed Internet, technology innovation and small business development powered by the free LinkNYC public WiFi. This Gigabit Center was a collaboration between the city of New York, Intersection, ZenFi Networks, CityBridge, LinkNYC, Silicon Harlem and the C-Better Foundation. CityBridge and its partner organizations have big plans for the development of similar gigabit centers across New York City, including Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. These facilities will provide free public Wi-Fi access via the LinkNYC network, along with digital literacy training, free access to laptops and workstations, and other services to further help bridge the digital divide.
“Since entering our original agreement with CityBridge, we have been actively looking to install and provide these services to underserved communities across New York City,” ZenFi Networks Vice President of Business Development, Walter Cannon said. “As a New York resident, born and raised in the Bronx, this mission is personal for me, and we’re excited about the future of 5G connectivity in New York City.”
In addition to the Gigabit Centers, ZenFi Networks also has plans to build out additional infrastructure across New York City in order to support the development of LinkNYC kiosks in areas identified as “fiber deserts.” According to the New York City Internet Master Plan, approximately 40% of New York City households lack the combination of home and mobile broadband internet connectivity. Among that group, 18% of residents, accounting for over 1.5 million people, currently lack both in their neighborhoods. ZenFi Networks has fiber construction plans to support the deployment of LinkNYC in order to address the disparity in these areas and is also working with wireless broadband service providers to utilize their whole platform to extend their networks to building services.