Hey Philly! Free Wi-Fi is heading your way

Philadelphia – The Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (OTIS) today received approval from the City’s Art Commission to install one hundred free standing kiosks that provide free, high-speed Wi-Fi and a wide range of other important public services.

The LinkPHL (pronounced “Link Philly”) kiosks, called Links, will be installed in Center City, University City, and other locations. Each kiosk will provide Philadelphians and visitors free services, including:

○    High-speed, secure Wi-Fi accessible through personal mobile devices

○    Device charging from two integrated USB Quickcharge ports

○    Free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S.

○    Direct 911 emergency calling

○    A touchscreen tablet to access city services, wayfinding, and other useful apps

○    Information on city events, arts, and culture

“LinkPHL will be an investment in Philadelphia’s future, creating 21st century infrastructure in the heart of the City,” said Mayor Kenney. “But more importantly, the kiosks will provide the sorts of modern services that our residents and visitors need as they work and play in the City — at no cost to taxpayers.”

LinkPHL will be provided by Intersection, a smart cities technology and media company, as part of its existing street furniture agreement with the City. That contract, approved by the City Council in December 2014, called for Intersection to install kiosks that display arts, cultural, and public information. The Links will satisfy this requirement, while also providing Philadelphians with a number of additional benefits at no cost to the city.

“Intersection has been working to improve Philadelphia’s streetscape through the management of streets furniture and transit assets for more than a decade, and we’re excited to bring LinkPHL to the city,” said Ari Buchalter, CEO of Intersection. “As we’ve seen in New York City and London, providing free high-speed wi-fi, an array of digital services, and engaging content on city streets enriches the experience of the city for residents and visitors alike. We look forward to working with OTIS to create a modern, connected streetscape for the Philadelphia of the future.”

LinkPHL Wi-Fi will provide bandwidth for speeds up to 1000 Mbps (1 gigabit), which is up to 100 times faster than average public Wi-Fi and LTE on mobile devices. The kiosks’ 55-inch digital displays will feature public service announcements, information on local events, art and culture, emergency messaging, and advertising. An interactive tablet built into the kiosk will give people free access to city services, maps, and directions through a curated portal. The Link kiosks are also ADA compliant and will be accessible to all residents and visitors of the city.

LinkPHL is free to all Philadelphians and visitors because it is supported through advertising. In addition to covering the costs of building, installing, maintaining, and upgrading LinkPHL through the life of the contract, LinkPHL advertising is also expected to generate millions of dollars in revenue for Philadelphia, with a minimum annual guaranteed payment of $450,000 after the Links are installed. The revenue generated by this Concession will help fund public services.

LinkPHL also supports the City’s SmartCityPHL initiative, focused on using new technologies to solve urban problems or to benefit our citizens. “SmartCityPHL wants to harness technology to change the way the city operates, in everything from internet connectivity to street lighting, crime prevention, meter reading, parking, and public safety,” said the City’s Chief Administrative Officer, Christine Derenick-Lopez. “LinkPHL’s capabilities, including dedicated fiber running to each structure, will provide the capacity and capability to share real-time information in a way that will help the City of Philadelphia develop smarter solutions to city issues and gain operational efficiencies that benefit taxpayers.”

Intersection has already installed 1,300 Links in New York City, with thousands more set to be deployed over the next few years. Since its launch in 2016, over 2.7 million people in New York have registered to use the free Wi-Fi, with hundreds of thousands of free phone calls and other kiosk services accessed each month. Intersection also recently launched InLinkUK from BT in London, which will bring 1,000 Links to cities across the United Kingdom. With LinkPHL, Philadelphia joins a growing network of connected cities.