New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has made improving Internet access in the city a hallmark of his time in office. The latest iteration could involve equipping some of the city’s sidewalk trash bins with Wi-Fi hot spot technology.

Massachusetts-based Bigbelly, which specializes in bringing intelligence to waste management efforts, makes waste receptacles that serve as Wi-Fi hot spots. An early trial, begun in downtown Manhattan late last year, provides an impressive 50 Mbps to 75 Mbps of throughput, according to Popular Science.

Now the company is looking for grant funding from de Blasio’s office to expand the offering with an eye on deploying the receptacles in neighborhoods underserved by Wi-Fi access.

Last year the Alliance for Downtown New York installed 16 BigBelly trash and recycling bins equipped with solar panels. Building on that project, the Alliance for Downtown expanded the program to include 174 of the high-tech bins. Those already-placed bins could have the Wi-Fi technology added.

While adding Wi-Fi to garbage cans may seem novel, it’s just one aspect of New York City’s forward-leaning push to expand Wi-Fi access in the metropolitan area.

De Blasio’s office has also pushed the LinkNYC project, which aims to replace some 10,000 antiquated phone booths with Links, which offer super-high-speed public Wi-Fi.

The project is meant to bridge the “digital divide,” while boosting public safety and job creation. Each of the Links will host paid advertising, which could bring in an estimated $500 million in public revenue over the next 12 years.

When announcing the project in November, de Blasio said providing high-quality Internet access is “essential for everything we need to do to be a fair and just city, because we can’t continue to have a digital divide that holds back so many of our citizens. With this proposal for the fastest and largest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world – accessible to and free for all New Yorkers and visitors alike – we’re taking a critical step toward a more equal, open and connected city – for every New Yorker, in every borough.”

The Links will provide 24/7 Internet access, free phone calls anywhere in the country, a touchscreen interface to access city services, charging for mobile devices and the digital ad displays.


Via RCR Wireless