Google startup Sidewalk Labs is acquiring two companies (Control Group and Titan) behind New York City’s LinkNYC initiative, whose plan is to convert old pay phones into free public Wi-Fi hubs, reports Wired. Dubbed Intersection, the initiative is all about providing technology for cities, something that Google is currently doing with its fiber connectivity plan throughout the country. The article says that though Intersection is an independent partner, it might partner with Google in the future. Cable companies already provide WiFi for subs from more than 400,000 hotspots. And Cablevision has launched a WiFi-only phone, which could in theory boost the attractiveness of the MSO’s WiFi-only service as public access becomes more prevalent.
Google’s big bet on technology for cities is finally starting to make sense. Earlier this month, when Larry Page announced that Google was launching a new startup called Sidewalk Labs to develop and incubate technology for cities, many wondered what the company wanted with an industry that is so much less sexy than any of its other so-called “moonshot” projects, like developing the self-driving car or, you know, curing death.