Qualcomm Spills LinkNYC's Guts

The kiosks going up in New York City that will provide free Wi-Fi are going to be chock full o' Qualcomm.

Brian Santo, Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading

February 9, 2016

3 Min Read
Qualcomm Spills LinkNYC's Guts

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

About the Author(s)

Brian Santo

Senior editor, Test & Measurement / Components, Light Reading

Santo joined Light Reading on September 14, 2015, with a mission to turn the test & measurement and components sectors upside down and then see what falls out, photograph the debris and then write about it in a manner befitting his vast experience. That experience includes more than nine years at video and broadband industry publication CED, where he was editor-in-chief until May 2015. He previously worked as an analyst at SNL Kagan, as Technology Editor of Cable World and held various editorial roles at Electronic Engineering Times, IEEE Spectrum and Electronic News. Santo has also made and sold bedroom furniture, which is not directly relevant to his role at Light Reading but which has already earned him the nickname 'Cribmaster.'

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