NYC To Convert Payphones To Wi-Fi Hotspots
According to the series Futurama, the citizens of New New York in the 31st century regard payphones without much respect: they’re either annoying decoys for suicide booths or “public toilets.” The 21st century citizens of the city seem to have similar issues. But a new program converting the ubiquitous structures into free Wi-Fi hotspots may restore payphones to their former glory.
At first, the service will only be at 10 of the city’s 13,000 payphones. GigaOm reports that the systems with will have “military grade” antennas that broadcast up to 300 feet away. At this point, Van Wagner Communications (the owner of the booths) is providing the $2,000 installations free, and the service is without ads.
(What’s Van Wagner’s end game- selling the remaining booths to the city? The fixtures must be a pretty big burden at this point.)
New York is still behind some other major cities in providing widespread Wi-Fi, but has made big changes in just the last few years. Wireless internet came to select subway stations recently, and is now being expanded to 277 stations and multiple service providers.
I’m interested to see how this plan will play out as it spreads to less affluent and trafficked parts of the city, where payphones still get some use. Are these the parts of the city where cellphones are sometimes the only Internet devices a person has, and where free Wi-Fi would be most needed and used?
What do you think of the new NYC plan?