The price of “free” wifi

You can’t argue that free wifi in public isn’t great, but it usually comes at a price that most of us seldom think twice about. Assuming positive intent, after all, is thinking the glass is half full, except when behind the free glass is adult entertainment and where the service has been abused by the city’s residents, writes’s Tim Skinner.

The free wifi in question are the kiosks which were installed as part of the LinkNYC network in New York. Designed to replace dwindling phone booths these were made to help you consult maps, check local info, weather, news, and even charge your phone, but anything “free” has another side too.

It attracted lingerers who drank, did drugs and even watched porn, all in public and all on the pavement. As loiterers made themselves comfortable, genuine users were not.

“I don’t think anybody should be able to sit there and watch movies all day long,” Ms. Brewer, Manhattan borough president, said. “People are pulling up sofas or chairs or what have you.”

The free wifi project is still in its infancy as it’s been up for less than a year so was bound to have a few teething issues. The kiosks have now had web browsers disabled in a bid to alleviate the problem.

Hopefully this doesn’t put off other cities from trialling similar schemes.


4 thoughts on “The price of “free” wifi

  1. It’s great to have to free wi-fi kiosks installed in most city and suburb areas as they can be a valuable resource for professionals, students, tourists etc.
    Including some basic controls such as maximum length of time, content controls, USB power limits etc. Advertising and sponsorship from local and national companies can provide some revenue towards the operational costs.
    In general, the more of these Wi-Fi Kiosks, the better.

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