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Free Wi-Fi is coming to Philly’s streets

LinkPHL kiosks will start popping up in 2018

LinkPHL will bring 100 internet kiosks to Philly’s sidewalks.
Courtesy of Intersection/City of Philadelphia

Philly’s streets are about to become a bit smarter, with the installation of 100 kiosks that will provide free, high-speed Wi-Fi to residents and visitors.

The Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems (OTIS) received approval from the City’s Art Commission on Wednesday to begin installing the kiosks throughout the city, which will not only provide Internet access, but will also display public information, include charging portals, and the ability to make phone calls.

The service is called LinkPHL (pronounced “Link Philly”) and will provide super fast internet speeds—up to 100 times faster than the average public Wi-Fi services. In addition to Wi-Fi, the kiosks will offer way-finding services like maps and directions.

The service is being provided by Intersection, which first launched its internet kiosk services in New York and London. Intersection’s CEO Ari Buchalter said that because Philly has the second most-populated downtown and the most jobs in the region, it was the perfect place to expand its services.

LinkPHL is free and the installation won’t cost taxpayers since it’s supported by advertising on the kiosks. Still, it was met with some resistance from residents who said that the kiosks would only clutter Philly’s streets, according to a PlanPhilly report.

LinkNYC, New York City’s Intersection service, fielded a series of complaints last year after people started using the kiosks for "lewd and nefarious" acts. It ended up removing the web-surfing feature from the kiosks.

Philly’s kiosks will allow free Wi-Fi that’s only accessible through a user’s own personal smartphone or device.

The 100 kiosks will start popping up around the city in 2018. Eighty of them will be installed in Center City and University, and another 20 will be placed throughout the rest of the city.