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After controversy, LinkNYC finds its niche

Photo: Peter D'Amato The number of people using Wi-Fi through the kiosks has surged. Usage numbers show the network of Wi-Fi kiosks has been gaining popularity

After some early controversy, the LinkNYC project is gaining a foothold. The installation of Wi-Fi kiosks across the city—582 and counting—has attracted more and more users during the past few months.

A comparison of typical periods from last month and September reflects the change. Wi-Fi sessions on LinkNYC kiosks were 51% higher during the week of Jan. 9 than during the week of Sept. 26. Over that time frame, New Yorkers logged more than 5.4 million hours on the free Wi-Fi.

The Links kiosks, which replaced pay phones scattered throughout the city, provide free Wi-Fi, phone calls and USB charging. Originally internet browsing services were available via each kiosk's built-in tablet. The internet service proved to be problematic, though, as people complained that homeless and other users were monopolizing the kiosks, often using the tablets to view pornography. The tablets were disabled in mid-September, and the kiosks received a software update.

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