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Qualcomm Spills LinkNYC's Guts

Brian Santo
2/9/2016
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Qualcomm Technologies today offered the first glimpse into the guts of the new LinkNYC free WiFi kiosks being installed in New York City. Oddly enough, there are a lot of Qualcomm products in there.

Kiva Allgood, vice president of global market development, smart cities, for Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), also discussed with Light Reading how WiFi access is only one of the more obvious applications for smart city connectivity.

The LinkNYC project is being run jointly by the City of New York and an operation called CityBridge. CityBridge is a joint venture whose largest member is Qualcomm, which isn't designated the system integrator even though that's the role it appears to be playing. It is certainly the dominant technology supplier, providing the fundamental silicon for most major kiosk functions. (See Gigabites: The Big Apple Gets Gig WiFi)

The main computing element of each kiosk will be an eInfochips' Eragon single board computer. That board is in turn built around Qualcomm's midrange ARM processor, the Snapdragon 600.

The WiFi access points are from Ruckus Wireless Inc. . Each LinkNYC kiosk will contain a ZoneFlex 802.11ac wave 2 4x4 access point. The Ruckus APs are supported by a Qualcomm Internet Processor and the Qualcomm VIVE 11ac Wi-Fi silicon. The chips provide MU|EFX multi-user MIMO technology, which will help support hundreds of simultaneous connections.

The kiosks will also incorporate a 3G modem to support 911 calls and emergency services. The modem is Sierra Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: SWIR; Toronto: SW)'s MC9090, which is based on a Qualcomm chipset.

People will also be able to use the LinkNYC obelisks as charging stations. Qualcomm is including Quick Charge 2.0 USB charging ports.

Allgood said the WiFi will be based on HotSpot 2.0, and will have SSID across the network itself.

She said there are 15 kiosks installed so far. The city plans to have a ceremony in a couple of weeks when it activates the tablets that will be installed in each kiosk.

Allgood said CityBridge is in the process of installing fiber for gigabit connectivity. The kiosks will end up in the same places where pay telephone booths used to be -- in over 7,000 locations across the city.

The plan, she said, is to install several thousand LinkNYC access points in Manhattan, over 1,000 in Brooklyn and Queens each, and hundreds more in The Bronx and Staten Island each.


Want to know more about communications ICs? Check out our comms chips channel here on Light Reading.


Qualcomm is getting involved with so many different connected services, Allgood could barely reference one without being reminded of another equally unexpected and interesting.

One is working with Big Belly, which makes solar-powered smart trash bins that can tell collectors when each bin is getting full, or even getting too ripe.

Allgood spoke of one project for a city that has two dozen lakes, whose depth the city continuously monitors by sending out people in boats with measuring sticks. "We asked them 'how about doing that with sensors?' They said, 'can you do that?' Better than sending people out with sticks. We did some rapid prototyping and we got the project up and running," Allgood related.

Qualcomm is also working with a startup called anyComm that specializes in smart street lights. What if street lamps were equipped with sound sensors that could detect, for example, gunshots or gas explosions, then triangulate to fix the source and alert the appropriate agency with precise location data?

Or what if street lights came in multiple colors, so if, for example, an escape route needed to be designated, it could be done with street lights illuminating the recommended path with one specific color?

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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inkstainedwretch
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inkstainedwretch,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/10/2016 | 11:45:38 AM
Re: Vandalism
5G will have far more satisfying data rates, but it will still be a pay account, and the wireless companies love usage billing. As long as that's the case AND wifi continues to be unmetered, wifi should probably persist. There might be some other factors I'm not thinking of right now that might serve to kill wifi...  

-- Brian Santo
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/10/2016 | 10:47:57 AM
Re: Vandalism
Phone booths lasted most of a century (I don't mean individual phone booths of course -- I mean the institution of having them on the streets). These kiosks should be fine. They'll probably only be needed a decade or so until 5G becomes ubiquitous enough to make WiFi unnecessary. 

Which reminds me of this. I really did have to think for a moment to remember what it could be. 
inkstainedwretch
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inkstainedwretch,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/9/2016 | 7:46:55 PM
Re: Vandalism
The notion occurred to me. The casings will of course get graffiti and stickers. But what can be broken? If anyone really, really needs to vandalize the tablets -- which is inevitable -- well, the basic models are dirt cheap. You know people will mess with the ports, but you can eventually swap in cordless charging. As long as they make them out of something that can withstand getting whacked with a baseball bat, they should be mostly fine.
Mitch Wagner
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Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
2/9/2016 | 5:00:59 PM
Vandalism
The booths must be made of battleship steel and neutronium to deter vandalism. 
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