Tags: nyc | pay | phones | wifi | network

NYC Pay Phones to Become Part of Free Municipal WiFi Network

Image: NYC Pay Phones to Become Part of Free Municipal WiFi Network
A man stands in a public phone booth on a Manhattan street in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images, file)

By    |   Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 07:02 AM

NYC pay phones will soon be transformed into the biggest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world and the mayor says it won't cost New Yorkers a dime.

By the time the project is complete, the iconic phone booth – used by Clark Kent to transform into Superman – will be replaced with nearly 10,000 slender kiosks that rise out of the ground to provide not only free Wi-Fi, but free domestic calls, emergency services like 911, a charging station for mobile devices, and access to city services and directions.

According to The New York Times, the $200 million city contract was awarded to a consortium called CityBridge, comprised of mobile chipmaker Qualcomm and outdoor advertiser Titan. Titan already has the largest contract for advertising on current phone booths, and plans to create highly targeted display and mobile ads specific to the user and their location.

CityBridge will split 50 percent of ad revenues with the city, which is intended to pay for the cost of the network's construction and maintenance. Mayor Bill de Blasio has said it won't cost residents anything.

Several municipal Wi-Fi projects have failed over the years, and some technologists are skeptical the LinkNYC project will fare much better.

"Cities have claimed these kinds of projects can help spur economic activity and narrow the digital divide between those who can access the Internet and those who can't," wrote CNET. "Yet many of these projects were scraped or scaled back over the years after cities and developers butt up against financial, competitive and technical challenges. Several current municipal Wi-Fi networks are available only in downtown areas and for a few hours a day for users."

In any case, 500 of the Wi-Fi kiosks are planned to open next year, with the rest expected to open over the next few years.

For those worried Superman won't have a private place to don his cape, never fear, as CityBridge has agreed to maintain three classic phone booths on the Upper West Side.

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NYC pay phones will soon be transformed into the biggest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world and the mayor says it won't cost New Yorkers a dime.
nyc, pay, phones, wifi, network
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2014-02-18
Tuesday, 18 Nov 2014 07:02 AM
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