Stretching more than 30 feet in the air, LinkNYC 5G kiosks offer free Wi-Fi, free charging, nationwide phone service and other digital services, with the goal of making high-speed internet more accessible.
But some residents of Carnegie Hill on the Upper East Side say new LinkNYC 5G towers are slated there too, and would violate the historic look of the neighborhood, which stretches from East 86th Street to East 96th Street and from Third Avenue to Central Park.
“They will cast shadows, emit heat and noise and radiate flashing images, in some cases 24 hours a day,” Joanna Cawley, a member of Carnegie Hill Neighbors, said.
The installation of the 32-footers started in July of last year. Mayor Eric Adams said they will serve people in underserved neighborhoods.
“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 last year.
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. But opponents, 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,” preservation consultant Simeon Bankoff 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 added.
A City Hall spokesperson said, “In 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.”
Manhattan Rep. Jerry Nadler submitted a letter requesting the Federal Communications Commission look over the plan.
NY1 reached out to the city to see when the towers would be installed on the Upper East Side and is waiting to hear back. Sources say the locations for Carnegie Hill have not been picked yet.