Stretching more than 30 feet in the air, a LinkNYC 5G kiosk on First Street and Second Avenue aims to make high-speed internet more accessible.

“They are definitely an eyesore,” Tony Agosto, a resident of East Village, said.

The kiosks offer free Wi-Fi, free charging, nationwide phone service, and other digital services.

What You Need To Know

  • Lawmakers and residents rallied at City Hall against the kiosks

  • Carnegie Hill Neighbors says they are concerned about preserving the historic aesthetic of the neighborhood

  • LinkNYC 5G kiosks are part of a citywide program to provide free high-speed internet and other services to people in the city

  • Alternatives to the kiosks were recommended by state Assemblymember Alex Bores include attaching technology to existing infrastructure

The installation of the 32 footers brings free 5G Wi-Fi and started in July of last year. Mayor Eric Adams said it will serve people in underserved neighborhoods.

LinkNYC 5G kiosks are part of a citywide program to provide free high-speed internet and other services to people in the city. (NY1/Justine Re)

“The reality is too many people don’t have access to phone service and don’t have access to free Wi-Fi,” Adams said in July 2022.

The agreement with the city requires the overwhelming bulk of the new kiosks to be built north of 96th Street in Manhattan or outside of Manhattan.

Some Carnegie Hill residents say new towers are slated there too and would violate the historic look of the neighborhood, which stretches from 86th Street to 96th Street and from Third avenue to Central Park.

“They will cast shadows emir heat and noise and radiate flashing images in some cases 24 hours a day,” Joanna Cawley, a member of Carnegie Hill Neighbors, said.

Protesters, including elected leaders, say there are other options that are less obtrusive and more aesthetically pleasing.

“We deserve the best design possible for our streets and to re-utilize the existing infrastructure and that’s a big word that means street lights, newsstands, power pits so it does not unduly affect the effects of a historic streetscape while still increasing broadband access,” Simeon Bankoff, preservation consultant, said.

“Put it on top of street poles, it’s put it on top of buildings. We know there are other ways to do this and Link5G says this is the only way,” Assembleymember Alex Bores said.

A City Hall spokesperson says, “n today’s digital age, reliable, high-speed internet is as essential as hot water and heat. That is why our administration views high-speed connectivity as a human right and is making major investments—like Link5G — to bridge the digital divide.”

Congressional representative Jerry Nadler submitted a letter requesting the FCC look over this plan.

NY1 reached out to the city to see when the towers would be installed on the Upper East Side and we’re waiting to hear back. Sources say the locations for Carnegie Hill have not been picked yet.