New York Gives Operators Key to City

By Douglas Rushkoff. Published in The Feature on 30 July 2004

The city’s lampposts will provide more than just light, thanks to a new deal with a number of wireless companies.

In an agreement reported to be worth $25 million a year to the city, New York has agreed to allow a consortium of six wireless industry companies install much-needed transmitters on lamp posts throughout the five boroughs.

Nextel and T-Mobile are the two cellular providers involved in the deal, and have teamed up with Wi-Fi and VoIP providers ClearLinx Network, Crown Castle, Dianet and IDT Business Services.

Local coverage has focused on the possible health threats caused by increased radiation. But expect the story to unfold a bit differently as residents learn what plans may have been rejected by the city in favor of this one – such as ripping up the street to lay down new cable – as well as which operators were behind them.

Where do giants Verizon and Cingular stand on this? Given the history of wireless in the city, it may just take a lawsuit is filed to find out.

But with the number of NYC’s cell users having passed the 4 million mark last year, nobody would want to be on the side that’s denying anyone their coverage.