With payphones starting to look like relics of another era, the city of New York has found a way to give them a new lease of life.
It’s announced a pilot project to turn them into free, unlimited Wifi hotspots, covering a 200-foot radius around each payphone.
To start with, ten locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens will be covered, with more to be added over the next few months. There’s a list of sites here.
There are currently about 13,000 payphones in the city – of which only around half still work. Repurposing them this way may stem the flood of complaints the city gets each year from people disgruntled to see them used as urinals.
New York is rapidly becoming one giant Wifi hotspot. Last year, AT&T announced plans to install Wifi in 20 parks across the city. Companies such as Starbucks and MacDonalds are also offering a free service, along with many libraries, meaning that many canny city residents could soon avoid paying altogether.
To offer the service, the city is partnering with payphone advertising suppliers Titan and Van Wagner Communications, which are coverign the cost of the project.
If it takes off over the next two years, it could be expanded even further. It’s possible that ads will need to be incorporated to make the service cost-effective, though.