At this very moment in New York City, you can walk up to one of 65 futuristic kiosks, punch in an email address on your phone and instantly receive a wireless internet connection that follows you around town. It's free – and it's fast. Each kiosk, which is really an old payphone that's been converted into an internet terminal, is connected to gigabit fibre optics.
Free, city-wide Wi-Fi has been an elusive dream for many urbanists. But if any city were to figure it out at scale, it would probably be New York. Early signs suggest the experiment, known as LinkNYC, is gaining traction: New Yorkers and visitors are signing up for the small-scale Wi-Fi feature at a pace of several thousand people a week, according to Intersection, one of the handful of companies behind the project. During one week of especially notable growth, 5000 people registered for the service.
Even though there are legitimate security concerns that do need prompt attention, the sheer size and ambition and vision behind such a mammoth project deserves our attention and our praise. In New Zealand, on a much smaller scale but of huge significance, there is the free Wi-Fi in and around the Pt. England, Auckland area to support these families to get on-line. Hey, if one of the biggest cities in the world can dream and potentially achieve free Wi-Fi why can't we? Let's start with the communities that are in and around low-decile schools.