NYC bringing wireless Internet to pay phone kiosks (Update)

Jul 11, 2012 by FAY ABUELGASIM

(AP) — New Yorkers have been making fewer and fewer calls on the city's 12,000 pay phones, yet the kiosks will likely be getting heavier use soon.

The city announced Wednesday a pilot program that has converted 10 kiosks in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens into free Wi-Fi Internet hotspots. The plan is to expand the program to all 12,000 pay phones in the city.

"We are taking an existing infrastructure and leveraging it up to provide more access to information," said Rahul Merchant, the city's chief information officer, at a kiosk located at Broadway and 58th Street.

Merchant said the program is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's effort to help New Yorkers and the 50 million people who visit the city each year stay connected.

The pay phones remain, but a router is installed at each kiosk. The Internet signal extends a couple of hundred feet, Merchant said.

Users simply approach the kiosk with an Internet device and log on. No password is needed. They can connect for as long as they need, 24 hours a day.

Merchant said the city's plan is not to remove pay phones, but to improve them. The Van Wagner and Titan outdoor advertising companies, which own more than 9,000 kiosks combined, are working with the city to add the hotspot devices and are paying about $2,000 for each setup, said Peter Izzo, Van Wagner's senior operations executive.

"With cellphone companies limiting 3G and 4G access, we saw a growing need for free Wi-Fi," Izzo said.

Cellphones have been driving down pay phone use for years, but Izzo said there were 25 million pay phone calls made in New York City last year.

Izzo said the companies hope traffic to the hot spots — and the advertising there — will generate more advertising profit.

Explore further: Why the SIM card has had its day

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Heating oil phase-out part of NYC clean-air plan

Apr 21, 2011

(AP) -- The city will phase out the use of polluting heavy oils to heat buildings and will begin building solar power plants on capped landfills, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday in his first update to a 4-year-old ...

New York City launches its own Media Lab

Jun 15, 2010

New York launched its own Media Lab on Tuesday aiming to build stronger connections between academic researchers and media companies seeking to draw on emerging technologies.

NYC fires shot at Silicon Valley tech dominance

Jul 19, 2011

(AP) -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg is firing a shot across the bow of Silicon Valley, saying New York City's efforts to attract a new science and engineering campus will help the metropolis surpass the California region as ...

Recommended for you

Why the SIM card has had its day

Mar 05, 2015

The small microchips known as "subscriber identity modules" or SIM cards that are required for mobile phones to log on to a phone network will soon be 25 years old. While mobile phones and network technology ...

The UK doesn't yet need net neutrality regulations

Mar 04, 2015

The net neutrality debate in the US has ended, at least for now, with the Federal Communications Commission ruling for stricter regulation of telecoms and internet service providers (ISPs) in order to maintain ...

Italy adopts plans to shift into Internet fast lane

Mar 04, 2015

Italy's government adopted a six-billion-euro plan Tuesday to modernise its Internet network and improve access to broadband in hopes of shedding its reputation as one of Europe's online laggards.

Phone firms and the quest for the 5G Holy Grail

Mar 03, 2015

Lightning-quick downloads, driverless cars and remote surgery: telecom firms are racing to develop a new generation of "5G" mobile networks that could start to change the world in five years.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.