More SoHo News

The NYC Office of Technology and Innovation is proposing to install 5G cell towers throughout the city, two here in SoHo. The 32-foot-tall towers provide free Wi-Fi, USB charging and nationwide calling — replete with large, illuminated digital screens for commercial advertising. See the photo at the bottom.

The purported reason for these gargantuan monoliths is to “bridge the digital divide in underserved communities” with an “equitable deployment mandate”. The agency seeks to install over 2,000 in the coming years, allegedly focusing on neighborhoods in the outer boroughs and Manhattan north of 96th Street, which it calls “Wi-Fi deserts”. 

However, one tower is proposed for 110 Prince Street on the southwest corner with Greene Street, catty-corner from the Apple store, which, ironically, offers free Wi-Fi. The other is proposed for 568 Broadway on the northeast corner with Prince Street and in front of the busy N,R subway station.

So why are the earliest of these towers planned for two of the most congested intersections in Manhattan in a neighborhood saturated with broadband Wi-Fi options? SoHo is certainly not an underserved Wi-Fi desert. We all have access to high-speed cable and internet.

It is quite clear. It is not about digital equity. It is all about pushing more commercial advertising into SoHo at our expense.

The new kiosk towers will be operated by tech consortium CityBridge, the same company that installed those failed LinkNYC internet kiosks that replaced pay phones and promised to be the cutting edge for public Wi-Fi accessibility, but instead became unused advertising obstructions on the sidewalk. 

Further, CityBridge put the majority of those 1,966 kiosks in Manhattan but few in the outer boroughs, where at-home and mobile broadband are sorely lacking. 

Into the bargain, the company failed to meet its advertising revenue goal and defaulted on $60 million it owed the city, facing bankruptcy in 2019. 

We can only expect the same shenanigans with their 5G towers — advertising kiosks in upscale Manhattan neighborhoods, while poorer neighborhoods who need the high-speed internet will continue to wait for digital equity.  

Despite this scandal, the city is giving CityBridge another chance. Why?

SoHo is a world-renowned historic district with some of the narrowest sidewalks anywhere. Prince Street is only 11-feet deep.  

These towers will detract from the landscape of the Cast-Iron Historic District, clutter the public realm with additional street furniture and create unsafe walking conditions, especially for the elderly and those with mobility issues. Pedestrians must have priority — not advertising kiosks — which is what these towers will turn out to be in our tourist/shopper magnet of a neighborhood.

To add insult to injury, for additional revenue, CityBridge will be renting out space in the towers to other communication companies, like ATT, Verizon and T-Mobile. This is expropriation of public space for private benefit.


Send an email to the principals involved, requesting that the towers be located in less congested areas and in underserved communities — not in congested, historic districts like SoHo that are technologically well equipped.

Dash off a quick email to:

– Ms. Leslie Brown, External Affairs & Communications, Office of Technology and Innovation:

– Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine:

– Community Board 2:

– Mr. Matthew Fraser, Chief Technology Officer, Office of Technology and Innovation:

– Deputy Mayor Meera Joshi:

– Mayor Eric Adams:

Thank you.



Sean Sweeney


SoHo Alliance, PO Box 429 New York, NY 10012 212-353-8466

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