The city of New York recently announced a pilot program that will turn pay phone kiosks throughout the metropolis’ five boroughs into free-to-access Wi-Fi hotspots with ten locations already being active. The government program aims to convert a number of unused or otherwise obsolete pay phones in the city into useful Wi-Fi hotspots. The operations are started in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn with more locations planned for the Bronx and Staten Island.
According to Rahul Merchant, the city’s chief information officer, “we are taking an existing infrastructure and leveraging it to provide more access to information.” The idea makes perfect sense as cell phones further continue to saturate the U.S. market. New York City’s 12,000 pay phone kiosks go largely unused. Instead of paying for a slowly dying technology, telephone operators have joined forces with the city to divert funds toward the Wi-Fi conversion which costs roughly $2,000 per installation. To justify the added expense operators hope the project will increase advertising revenue.
During the conversion process, a wireless router is added to the existing kiosk hardware and residents can take advantage of the free Wi-Fi access 24 hours a day without charge, though the range of the routers is limited to a few feet.
For those of you who are in New York City, you can test one of these pilot pay phone kiosks by going to the following locations:
- Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill: 545 Albee Square and 2 Smith Street
- Astoria: 30-94 Steinway Street
- SoHo: 402 West Broadway
- Fur-Flower District: 458 Seventh Avenue
- Theater District-Clinton: 28 West 48th Street
- Grand Central-United Nations: 410 Madison Avenue
- Midtown-Clinton: 1609 Broadway and 1790 Broadway
- Upper West Side: 230 West 95th Street
Despite the pay phone kiosks slowly dying, the city’s government is still iffy about completely removing the pay phones as 27 million were made from the kiosks last year, not including 911 emergency calls. The government continues to look at other solutions such as touchscreen map booths or powering stations as a way to improve the technology at kiosks in the boroughs.
The idea is quite brilliant and should be beneficial to those who want to leverage using Wi-Fi to help watch their bandwidth limits. It should particularly be useful to those who bought Wi-Fi only iPads as you’ll have another venue to use it without having to tether. As the number of booths Wi-Fi increase, the convenience for the general public will also increase.
Source: LA Times