Payphones become WiFi hotspots

-July 13, 2012

Clark Kent  may have to find another place to change into his Superman getup because phone booths are about to get used again.

Payphones in major cities like New York have become less and less a public resource as mobile communications continue to grow. This New Yorker can’t remember the last time she used a payphone terminal, other than to duck out of the rain.

Looking to once again make these kiosks valuable, the Big Apple’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) this week made available the city’s first payphones-turned-Wi-Fi hotspots.
The pilot program began on Wednesday and offers free WiFi with no usage limits at the below payphone locations. Additional locations – including those in the Bronx and Staten Island – are planned.

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

Astoria: 30-94 Steinway Street

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

DoITT estimates the WiFi service ranges between 100 and 200 feet from each kiosk and claims it will collect no personal information on the users. It also claims no ads will be thrust upon users to support the program.
And for the New Yorkers reading this, DoITT is looking for more ideas for the street’s payphones. You can files those here.

NY is a connection-friendly city, already offering free WiFi in many public parks and libraries, with city officials saying that the efforts are to expand public access to broadband and promote greater digital inclusion. Although there will be vulnerabilities that the city may not be considering – not much is said about security in the DoITT program announcement – this takes it one more step in that direction.

How else can metropolises like NY expand WiFi for their dwellers? Share your thoughts on that and this move by NY below.

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