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NYC Pay Phones May Be City’s New Wi-Fi Hot Spots

NYC Payphone

Look all over NYC and you will still see a pay phone on many corners that have for the most part been unused for quite some time. Well NYC, you may be in for some good news. Google was among more than 50 attendees at an informational meeting in May for a project that could turn roughly 7,300 relics on NYC corners into free (yes I said free) Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the city. Cisco Systems Inc., International Business Machines Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. were also in attendance. Bids for the proposal were due this past Monday.

Google and several other companies want to turn the post modern pay phone monuments erected across New York City into Wi-Fi hotspots, finally giving these time capsules a second chance at life. The project calls for new designs to replace pay phones, providing “advertising, Wi-Fi and phone services” in all five boroughs. New York expects whomever wins the proposal to pay it a minimum annual compensation of $17.5 million or 50 percent of gross revenues, whichever is greater.

The selected provider will not be allowed to charge for Wi-Fi but will be able to attach fees to traditional phone service (excepting 911 and 311 calls). Most of the money generated would come from advertisers, who love seeing their billboards plastered along streets and sidewalks at eye level for passersby. The project began in 2012 under then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg and is set to be expanded by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The former mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Much of the problem with pay phones lies in their outdated use – too many people have mobile phones these days, driving down the demand for street-based phones. In fact, from its height of around two million phone booths in 2000, pay phones have dropped significantly from the streets. Now numbering only 700,000, most are kept in major city buildings such as hospitals and police stations, where people are most likely in need of a quick call. The sad part is, most cities simply scrap the old phones, sending well over a million booths into the landfill.

The current free Wi-Fi payphone locations are (pilot program):

BROOKLYN
Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill:
545 Albee Square
2 Smith Street

QUEENS
Astoria: 30-94 Steinway Street

MANHATTAN
SoHo: 402 West Broadway
Fur-Flower District: 458 Seventh Avenue
Theater District-Clinton: 28 West 48th Street
Grand Central-United Nations: 410 Madison Avenue
Midtown-Clinton:
1609 Broadway
1790 Broadway (event location)
Upper West Side: 230 West 95th Street

What do you think about this new project? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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About Ray Gruenfelder

Creator and Founder of The Guy Corner NYC, the Guys lifestyle blog (Tech, Sports, Food, Drinks & much more). A married father of 2, this page is dedicated to "Guy Stuff". I am also Co-Founder of NYC Wine Guys, a wine blog from 2 guys from Queens, NY.

Posted on July 24, 2014 8:22 am, in The Tech Geek and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. What a great idea. It is funny to see payphones still.

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  2. This is a great idea. Great use of payphones. My kids have no idea what a payphone is.

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  3. This is a great example of transforming existing infrastructure to support modern needs. It will be interesting to see how NYC handles this program and if the concept is transferable to cities with a smaller population density.

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  4. I never even knew payphones still existed! What a great way to get some use out of them instead of taking the time to tear them out.

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  5. This sounds like a great idea! I wish other cities would give similar service to their inhabitants!

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  6. Perfect idea! Keep up with technology and give citizens services they can actually use.

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  7. I think this is a very good idea. I think its a great way to recycle the space and make it useful again since most people don’t use pay phones.

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  8. Fantastic post. How interesting!

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  9. Most the old pay phone stalls around here are just good for vandals.

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  10. ascendingbutterfly

    Seems like New York was a popular theme today, yours for a good reason, mine not so much. I am happy to see that the payphones are going to be put to good use!

    Not happy about the “Poor Door” which is the subject of my post today, swing by if you get a chance: http://www.ascendingbutterfly.com/2014/07/op-ed-open-letter-to-newyorkcity-just.html

    Like

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