NYC pay phone kiosks get free Wi-Fi

Andrew Mollenbeck,

WASHINGTON – Pay phones have an afterlife.

New York City has launched a pilot program in which pay phones kiosks become free Wi-Fi hotspots.

“There was a clamor for more public Wi-Fi around the five boroughs,” says Nick Sbordone, a spokesman for the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

“This was an innovative way to use existing technology to provide that.”

Ten locations are currently in operation, spread out in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Eventually, the free Wi-Fi service will extend to each of the city’s boroughs.

The pilot program lasts between six months and a year. In that time, Sbordone says 18 or 20 pay phones will become hotspots.

“We have this existing infrastructure on the streets that we’re able to put a new twist on to provide a public amenity at no cost to the public,” he says.

Usage is unlimited, and connectivity reaches 100 feet to 200 feet from the kiosk.

New York’s 12,400 pay phones are under contract until October 2014. During this pilot program, the city is listening to feedback about what the next generation pay phone should be.

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