NYC expanding Wi-Fi coverage using pay phone kiosks

New Yorkers have been making fewer and fewer calls on the city’s 12,000 pay phones, yet the kiosks likely will be getting heavier use soon, reports the Associated Press: The city on July 11 announced an innovative pilot program that has converted 10 kiosks in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens into free Wi-Fi hotspots.

The plan is to expand the program to all 12,000 pay phones in the city, bringing wireless access to more city residents—including students—free of charge. “We are taking an existing infrastructure and leveraging it up to provide more access to information,” said Rahul Merchant, the city’s chief information officer.

Merchant said the program is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to help New Yorkers and the 50 million people who visit the city each year stay connected. The pay phones remain, but a router is installed at each kiosk. The internet signal extends a couple of hundred feet, Merchant said. Users simply approach the kiosk with an internet device and log on; no password is needed. They can connect for as long as they need, 24 hours a day.

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