WiFi hotspots set to revive NYC payphones. If you’ve ever been to New York City, you know that some of the buildings date back several hundred years. You’ll see technology that you could swear hasn’t been used in at least a decade. What you’ll notice more than anything that seems to have stood the test of time are the payphones that line nearly every street corner in the busiest areas of the city. Most of these payphones are still working, but the fact is that people haven’t used them enough to make them an affordable service to the telephone company, and maintaining them seems to have slowed down a bit, as several do get abandoned from time to time. Now, the city wants to revive these payphones and offer Wi-Fi services at these once-obsolete booths.
While the payphone will still be operational, the city of New York has dedicated money to bringing these booths back to life with free Wi-Fi for users who are near them. Right now, the program is only in the testing phase, and there are very few hotspots that are actually available. The city, however, plans to have a majority of the payphones throughout the city functional with a Wi-Fi connection by 2014.
The initial reaction by New Yorkers is that they are worried about their privacy. The city has emphasized that the free internet connection will not be used to collect any data on the user, and the only thing one needs to access the wi-fi connection is a piece of hardware that supports Wi-Fi and sign an agreement before surfing the web for their personal or business use.
The Wi-Fi program is solely going to be sponsored by the city. There will be no ads featured on the payphones, and no popups will appear on your computer as a result of using the service. While it’s still unclear whether or not the program will take off to a level of success, we can say that it certainly revives the payphone for the 21st century, and will completely change the way people communicate in New York City, should the program actually take off.
We’d like to see this idea go a little wider. There are plenty of other cities in the country that have obsolete payphones collecting dust on street corners. Using a structure that’s already in place to house a Wi-Fi connection is an inexpensive and convenient way to light a spark on what used to be an eyesore.