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New York's first public Wi-Fi hubs are now live

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New York's public Wi-Fi network went live this morning, spread across four hubs on Third Avenue between 15th and 19th Streets. The first LinkNYC hub was installed in December, but today is the first day New Yorkers have been able to use it to connect to the internet.

Today's rollout is also a test of the LinkNYC network, which provides newly laid fiber to each hub. The network is still officially in beta, and the group anticipates some changes as the network expands, but the current version is significantly faster than many commercially available connections. A Verge test found both upload and download speeds faster than 300 Mbps. "The device is usually the bottleneck," said Miles Green, head of network engineering at Intersection.

Connecting to the network takes users to a login screen, shown below, where they are asked to provide their email. LinkNYC officials say emails are collected for informational purposes only and will not be sold or shared, in accordance with the system's privacy policy. Notably, that single login will keep users connected across the entire system, regardless of which hub is closest at a given time.

LinkNYC login screen

The current rollout is proceeding up Third Avenue, but organizers say LinkNYC booths will begin the trek up Eighth Avenue over the next several weeks. By mid-July, the city plans to have 500 such hubs installed throughout the city. When the project is complete, it will include more than 7,500 hubs throughout the five boroughs. Each hub will include two USB charging ports, touchscreen web browsing, and two 55-inch ad displays.