Hundreds of New York City payphones are being given a high-tech makeover with the introduction of free Wi-Fi kiosks.
Standing over 2.7 metres tall, these new structures will not only provide passers-by with free Wi-Fi at speeds up to one gigabit per second, but also free domestic calling, an Android tablet for web browsing, and USB charging while featuring ads that are expected to bring in at least twice the revenue as the payphones they’re replacing.
The Wi-Fi service won’t force users to view these ads and users’ information will reportedly remain private and won’t be shared with any third party.
Faced with the decline in pay phone usage and the immense growth of mobile phone subscriptions in recent years, the Big Apple first experimented with providing Wi-Fi from a few pay phones in 2012 before hatching the current eight-year ‘LinkNYC’ plan, run by a private consortium called CityBridge.
The conversion process has now begun with the city expecting to have 500 units up and running by July in a bid to turn relics of a bygone era into what’s billed as the world’s biggest and fastest municipal Wi-Fi network.
The project, involving the installation of hundreds of kilometres of fiber optic line under city streets, is being rolled out by a consortium of investors including Google as the internet company seeks yet again to shake up the US telecoms market.
Nearly 30 years after the first ever public telephone was introduced in Connecticut, the so called ‘modern world’ is ready for another makeover with the city that never sleeps leading the way. The rise of the mobile handset has all but eliminated the need for dormant payphones; a wake-up call to companies always looking for new ways to adapt to rapid changes.