New York City officials announced a pilot program to convert select payphones into free public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Users have to agree to the terms of service and log into the city’s tourism website to begin browsing the Internet. There will be no advertisements in the service, but that could change in the future.
Each Wi-Fi kiosk is being built with military grade antennas that will reach wireless signals out to 300 feet away. Although the Wi-Fi stations will be installed for free in three of the five boroughs — Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens — it will cost the payphone’s owners, Van Wagner Communications, $2000 a kiosk.
“We have tremendous resources with our infrastructure that’s under the streets in New York City,” Peter Izzo, Van Wagner Communications Senior Operations Executive, was quoted as saying. “And when you think about unlimited bandwidth and electric on thousands of street corners, the possibilities are endless.”
The program will spread out to over 13,000 payphones with maintenance paid for by Van Wagner in an effort to replace an estimated 40-60 percent of payphones that are out-of-order.
“Today, it’s obvious that those pay phones are used really for supporting advertising, not for the telephone business,” Christine Berthet, co-chair of Community Board 4’s Transportation Planning Committee, was quoted as saying.
Members of the board and urban designers envision a future for the city where more touch-screen, electronic chargers, and voice commands to help residents communicate better.
New York offers plenty of Wi-Fi spots through a five-year contract with AT&T along with hot spots in schools, libraries, and parks.
Wi-Fi hot spots will also help reduce some of the data traffic congestion of wireless network carriers as well as offer residents and tourists a free method of communication through video-chat programs such as Skype.
NYC GOV has a complete list of the first initial WiFi kiosks. Check it out: http://nycgov.tumblr.com/post/26983289724/the-city-today-announced-a-pilot-program-to-add