City believes ad-driven terminals can make a profit, relieving the city's cash-strapped budget

New York City's Franchise and Concession Review Committee (FCRC) has finalized its proposal for ad-subsidized Wi-Fi terminals, which it hopes to blanket the city with.  It calls its finished product "LinkNYC".  The hope is that these "phone booths of the future" will replace the city's aging payphone network.

The key to the new terminals is the large LCD displays that blanket their sides.  These displays will serve colorful display ads that the city agency will sell to private parties.  If the FCRC's math and predictions hold true, the ads would not only pay for the cost of construction and maintenance, but also generate a surplus of $500M USD for the city.

The terminals themselves are pretty impressive.  They offer:
  • Free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S.
  • Easy access to 311/911
  • An embedded touchscreen tablet with information on the city, sites, and directions (powered by Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android OS)
  • Wireless device charging stations (free chargin)
  • Gigabit Wi-Fi internet (free)
Link NYC

The city also brags that the terminals will create a number of construction jobs. Construction could begin as early as 2015, if voters approve of the plan at a public hearing that will be held shortly.  If approved, the first terminals would be active by the end of 2015.

LinkNYC artist render (1 of 4)

In the longer run, New York City hopes to cover the five burroughs with a whopping 10,000 of the stations.  That would help it meet is revenue goals ad-wise, and would create 750 long term jobs (650 in support/maintenance, 100-150 in advertising and manufacturing).

LinkNYC artist render 2 of 4

New York City has partnered with Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), Control Group (an NYC startup), Titan360 (a digital advertising agency), and JMC Capital Partners subsidiary Comark Corp.  Together Qualcomm, the Control Group, and Comark will look to engineer and manufacture the terminals, while Titan360 will work to get the ball roling on the ad sales side.

LinkNYC artist render 3 of 4

Of course all this lemonade could turn sour if the NYC's bright eyed advertising projections prove overly optimistic.  The project could become a billion dollar boondoggle for the city, if it is not very carefully managed.  

LinkNYC artist's render 4 of 4

On the other hand, if NYC plays its cards right, the project could truly differentiate it and improve the quality of life for its residents.

Source: LinkNYC

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