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Manhattan and Bronx Only Beneficiaries of City's Free Wi-Fi Kiosks To Date

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LinkNYC developer CityBridge is not living up to its pact with the city

Surprise, surprise: the city is having trouble sticking to schedule in its rollout of free Wi-Fi kiosks throughout the five boroughs. A deadline that passed last week called for 322 kiosks to be active citywide, but in reality to date just 282 kiosks have been activated in Manhattan and 29 in The Bronx. Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island have yet to receive a single activated LinkNYC kiosk, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The kiosks, which provide free domestic calling, phone charging ports, and information about the city via a touch screen, have been heralded by the mayor as a way to connect the one in five New Yorkers without broadband internet at home with the essential service. Yet resources expended to date by CityBridge, the consortium of companies chosen by the city to develop the kiosks, have focused mostly on Manhattan, angering outer-borough residents.

"They usually take care of Manhattan first. After Manhattan, then everything is taken care of ... It’s not right, but that’s just how it is," a Brooklyn resident opined to the Journal. A LinkNYC and CityBridge higher-up said that a now-dismissed lawsuit with a telephone franchisee and the earlier Verizon strike are a major source of the deployment delay.

Because of the contract infringement, the city has the option of pursuing monetary damages from CityBridge. A spokeswoman for the mayor told WSJ that the city is reviewing that possibility.

Meanwhile, the kiosks have also been looked to as an eyesore by some and by others as a "multibillion-dollar manipulation apparatus," a public service more meant to betray private information to companies, according to a recent longform by The Village Voice.

To date more than 250,000 people have used the free Wi-Fi so far—the network was used nearly 1 million times last week.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for LinkNYC issued the following response to the Wall Street Journal article,