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NYC government testing free Wi-Fi at pay phone kiosks

post #1 of 18
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New York City on Wednesday 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 active.

The government program aims to convert a number of derelict, unused or otherwise obsolete pay phones dotting the city into useful Wi-Fi hotspots and has started operations in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn with more planned for the Bronx and Staten Island, reports the Los Angeles Times.

"We are taking an existing infrastructure and leveraging it up to provide more access to information," Rahul Merchant, the city's chief information officer, told the Associated Press.

As cell phones further saturate the U.S. market, New York City's 12,000 pay phone kiosks go largely unused and telecoms are beginning to slow upkeep of the locations. 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 cost approximately $2,000 per installation. To justify the added expense operators hope the project will increase advertising revenue.

In 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.

NYC pay phone Wi-Fi
New York City's pay phone Wi-Fi kiosk pilot project. | Source: NYCGOV's tumblr


List of pilot program pay phone kiosks:

  • Brooklyn
  • Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill: 545 Albee Square and 2 Smith Street

  • Queens
  • Astoria: 30-94 Steinway Street

  • Manhattan
  • 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

The city's government is leery about completely removing the pay phones as 27 million calls were made from the kiosks last year, not including 911 emergency calls, and is looking at other solutions like touchscreen map booths or powering stations. New York's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications on Wednesday released a "Request for Information" document soliciting ideas from from the public.
post #2 of 18
Wow. They still have pay phones.

Though so did Ireland four years ago, and Wi-Fi was offered there then!

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #3 of 18
If they made the WiFi work for 3 minutes, like with a local call, I think they would make a lot more money than from pay phone calls.

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #4 of 18

I am sorry but how is this related to Apple?

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeys View Post

I am sorry but how is this related to Apple?

Because… New York City is NOT one of the cities so stupid that they're boycotting Macs?

This and the Galaxy III sales article… I just don't know, you know?

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone exists], it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #6 of 18

This is related to Apple because they make tens of millions of WiFi devices every year.

 

I hope all cities do this. It enhances communication and productivity. They just need to ensure that there are enough connections available with enough bandwidth to handle it. Nobody will want to use them if they are as slow as a dial-up connection.

 

Are there any such programs that can automatically switch someone from one WiFi location to the next as they move around? I know that cell phones can do that.
 

post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by joeys View Post

I am sorry but how is this related to Apple?

WiFi is used my iPhones, iPad, iPods and Macs. Not exactly a leap to see how WiFi can benefit Apple's customer base. 😒

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #8 of 18

What is this "pay-phone" of which you speak?

post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jpellino View Post

What is this "pay-phone" of which you speak?

It's the way the phone companies used to nickle and dime [and quarter] you before cellphones.
Edited by SolipsismX - 7/12/12 at 4:30pm

"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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"The real haunted empire?  It's the New York Times." ~SockRolid

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

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post #10 of 18

Brilliant! Thinking outside the box.

post #11 of 18
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post #12 of 18
Quote:
range of the routers is limited to a few feet.

Hmm AI, are you sure about that? I read this story on a couple of other site (ABC & HuffPo) and they said the range is a 100-200 feet - more likely and functional than a few feet.
post #13 of 18

The death of the smartphone: heard here first. My iPhone and iPad are used close to exclusively via WiFi: with the exception of when traveling and not on an AMTRAK train...

 

With higher density WiFi public availability the need for 3/4G backup for data communication becomes less critical.

 

Oh sure not "death" death, but a diminishing: and look at voice traffic versus data trends so maybe someday even "death"?


Edited by jfc1138 - 7/13/12 at 9:28am
post #14 of 18

come sniff my packet

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post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfc1138 View Post

The death of the smartphone: heard here first. My iPhone and iPad are used close to exclusively via WiFi: with the exception of when traveling and not on an AMTRAK train...

 

With higher density WiFi public availability the need for 3/4G backup for data communication becomes less critical.

 

Oh sure not "death" death, but a diminishing: and look at voice traffic versus data trends so maybe someday even "death"?

 

That's soooooo not going to happen. How many WiFi access points would it take to replace a single cellular tower? Far too many.

 

It will be nice to have an alternative and/or some redundancy. I'd prefer to see NYC focus on putting the Wi-Fi hotspots in subway stations where 3G/4G is not an option.

post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by markbyrn View Post


Hmm AI, are you sure about that? I read this story on a couple of other site (ABC & HuffPo) and they said the range is a 100-200 feet - more likely and functional than a few feet.

 

 

That was my impression as well when I saw AI's word choice.  Some might use "a few" to mean "over 100", but there are much better word choices if one wants to increase understanding in readers.

post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silencio View Post

 

That's soooooo not going to happen. How many WiFi access points would it take to replace a single cellular tower? Far too many.

 

 

 

 

 

There are reasons why municipal wireless has not taken off.  I don't know what they are, however.  

 

My guess is that there will be increasing numbers of private hotspots so that a decent connection will often be available.  Those taking their laptops to lunch in the downtown can already find a decent connection in many cases.

post #18 of 18

Range is far greater at a payphone as it is usually in an open space and does not need to bounce around the floors of your home. 

 

It's becoming harder to find these things now that people are opting for "wireless" phones.  And it's still a little awkward to borrow one in a crunch.  If WIFI is free, the wired phone should actually be free too.  Give me an ad, or a jingle (and a wetnap)..  that should deter people from cancelling their contracts, but still allow it to be accessible to others.  It's still going to be quite some time before you can assume everyone has connection hardware.

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