New York City To Replace Pay Phones With Free Wi-Fi

It’s about time those ancient pay phones were phased out. New York City has been struggling for years trying to figure out what to do with its pay phones and it seems that CityBridge has provided a pretty cool and profitable answer.

New York City will begin this month replacing thousands of pay phone with free Wi-Fi hot spots. This is a change that seeks to challenge the speeds and high prices currently charged by wireless carriers. By July, the city estimates that 500 hot spots will be installed. Ultimately, New York City seeks to replace 7,500 units with these new Wi-Fi hot spots.

This change, called LinkNYC, is supported by advertising and is run by CityBridge, a joint venture between three tech companies: Qualcomm Inc., CIVIQ Smartscapes and Intersection. CityBridge stated that it is invested more than $200 million into LinkNYC. The company has stated that it has several advertising contracts in place, but did not identify the marketers.

The hot spots themselves will sit on a 9.5-foot ball box with electronic screens on each side to display advertisements. In between the two screens will sit an Android tablet that can be used to make free phone calls and access the Internet.

New York City hopes that the project will make a dent in the digital divide. According to a 2014 report from the New York City Comptroller, about 27% of New York households do not have broadband at home. An AT&T spokesman said that their company views the free Wi-Fi as a “complementary service.”

At the end of the day, think of all the money you’ll save by using free New York City’s Wi-Fi rather than using up all of your data in one fell, lost-in-the-city swoop! While providing free Wi-Fi to a population of 8.406 million (and growing) is quite the challenge, this is definitely the right step towards closing the digital divide. Income, no matter how large or small, should not dictate a person’s access to information and communication technology.

[Story via]

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