Out with the old, in with the new, as NYC seeks to turn payphones into WiFi hotspots. Eric Zeman reports.
New York City wants to put its 9,670 payphones back to use by converting them into WiFi hotspots. More than 50 companies are interested in assisting New York's bid to become more connected, including Google, Cisco, Samsung, and IBM. New York believes it should hook up residents of all five boroughs with free Internet access.
The program, which is being managed by New York's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), was kicked off last year by former mayor Michael Bloomberg. Mayor Bill de Blasio is expanding the project with the hope of bringing the Internet to the masses.
"The role of public pay telephones has changed dramatically over the last 10 years," DoITT said. "The widespread adoption of mobile devices reduces the overall need for public telephones, yet not everyone owns a mobile phone, and not everyone who owns one has connectivity at all times." The DoITT has a franchise agreement with 10 companies that operate the phones today, but the agreement expires in October. With the expiration date looming, the DoITT is exploring how best to put the payphones to use. One such idea is WiFi.
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