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Free Internet in New York: City Hall expands LinkNYC program

'26.10.2023'

ForumDaily New York

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These days, access to the Internet is not a luxury, but a necessity. Searching for jobs, housing, school applications, tickets to events and just daily news - all this is now online. If you have fallen out of the Internet, you have fallen out of life. Now imagine: a quarter (24%) of immigrant families in New York City do not have access to the Internet. There is a program in New York to support such people LinkNYC. It is the world's largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network.

LinkNYC stands are located on streets in all five New York City boroughs. They provide free ultra-fast Wi-Fi, information and registration for city hall services (for this purpose tablets are installed at the counter), free phone calls or smartphone charging. In addition, the counters are equipped with screens that display city news, weather, transport information and other important data. All LinkNYC services are completely free for users. You can find a LinkNYC counter near you at this map.

Now the program is expanding - thousands of new kiosks called Link5G, equipped with 5G wireless technology, will be installed in New York. This was discussed on October 19 at a round table at the mayor's office.

Photo: Olesya Vishnevskaya

“Access to the Internet is a right for everyone, not a luxury. That's why we're working to bring free Wi-Fi and expand 5G services to all New Yorkers,” said Nick Colvin, CEO of LinkNYC. – Connecting to the Internet is both a lifeline and a key to opportunity for new residents of our city. That's why we're advancing digital equity in our city's most marginalized neighborhoods—90% of Link5G racks will be installed in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and above 96th Street in Manhattan."

In addition, the program has entered into a partnership with the city initiative We Love Immigrant New York and now on stands LinkNYC will provide information about the services of the city's medical assistance program for low-income people NYC Care, language course programs Speak NYC and many others.

How to use LinkNYC services

1. How to connect to free Wi-Fi in New York

You can connect to LinkNYC's free internet from your smartphone, tablet or laptop. To do this, go to the counter closest to you (it can be found on this map), select the "LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi" network in your device's Wi-Fi settings and sign up using your email address. Here are step-by-step connection instructions devices on different operating systems.

On the subject: New Yorkers will receive free help filling out the green card lottery application form.

Near most counters you will see two networks: LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi and LinkNYC Private. The first time you use LinkNYC's internet, you'll need to sign in through LinkNYC Free Wi-Fi. This is an open network, it is quite secure and uses the SSL feature (URLs starting with https) for security. The LinkNYC Private network is better protected, but is currently only accessible on certain devices (Apple devices with Hotspot 2.0 technology running iOS 7 or later).

Both networks allow you to enjoy free and fast Wi-Fi. Once you connect to any of them, your device will automatically remember your choice for future use.

2. How to make free calls within the USA

You can call anywhere in the United States for free from the LinkNYC counter. This can be done using the touchpad or directly from the keyboard.

To make a call using your tablet's touchpad:

  1. Tap the gray arrow to open the app's control panel.
  2. Tap the voice call icon to open the on-screen keyboard.
  3. Enter the number you want to call.
  4. Click the Call button.
  5. After finishing the call, press the End Call button to hang up.

To make a call using the keyboard:

  1. Enter the number you want to call on the keypad.
  2. Click the Call button in the lower right corner of the keyboard.
  3. After finishing the call, click the “End Call” button, it is located immediately above the “Call” button.

To adjust the conversation volume, use the volume slider on the screen or the plus and minus buttons on the keyboard. If desired, you can connect headphones.

If you want to make an international call, use an international calling card - just follow the instructions on your card.

Photo: Olesya Vishnevskaya

3. How to access city services

Go to the Home screen and tap the City Services icon to instantly access the NYC 311 website. From there, you can make an appointment with some city services; view the schedule of construction work in your area, get acquainted with medical services for the poor and language courses from the mayor's office.

4. How to charge your phone on the LinkNYC stand

Each LinkNYC stand has two USB ports (located below the headphone jack). Just connect the charger cable to USB and charge your device.

5. Maps and routes

Even native New Yorkers sometimes get lost in our huge city. LinkNYC will come to the rescue in this case too:

  1. Tap the gray arrow to open the app control panel on your tablet.
  2. Click the Maps icon
  3. Use the search bar at the top of the screen to enter the destination address, street name or place you are looking for.
  4. Click the blue Directions arrow in the bottom right corner to see step-by-step guidance on how to get to your destination.
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