Old pay phones to become wireless Internet hotspots in New York City

Old pay phones to become wireless Internet hotspots in New York City

Bill de Blasio reveals a new plan

Image: Mashable
Image: Venture Beat

New York City is set to make use of its old and disused pay phone booths, by transforming them into Internet broadband hubs

Following on from Dubai's own annoucement that the Downtown area will be provided with free wi-fi access for all, New York City has revealed plans to work on a similar concept utilising the city's redundant public payphones dotted on almost every street.

Creating one of the largest free public wi-fi networks in the country, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio explained how he will transform those familiar relics of 20th century communication into next-generation broadband hubs.

A network of Internet hot spots that will blanket the Big Apple's five boroughs with free wireless Internet access could provide a blueprint for other big cities.

"For years, the question was, 'What to do with payphones?' and now we have an answer," de Blasio said in a statement. "By using a historic part of New York's street fabric, we can significantly enhance public availability of increasingly-vital broadband access, invite new and innovative digital services, and increase revenue to the city – all at absolutely no cost to taxpayers."

Today, New York City's pay-phone kiosks function as advertising billboards, only some of which contain usable pay phones. The new scheme says the new franchise will produce $17.5 million in guaranteed annual revenue until June 2026, with potential franchisees making money through the existing billboards as well as digital advertising.

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