NYC Morphing Practically Unused Pay Phone Kiosks Into Wi-Fi Hotspots

When New York City’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg isn’t too busy on his crusade to downsize sugary drinks or rebrand super tiny studio apartments as “micro-units” it turns out he’s been working on a way to turn the city’s practically unused pay phone kiosks into something useful — Wi-Fi hotspots.

This makes sense in the era of cell phones, because really, when’s the last time you weren’t surprised to see someone actually making a phone call in a pay phone booth?

The program will kick off with hotspots in around 10 locations, with the hopes that it will eventually expand to almost 12,000 kiosks scattered throughout the city’s five boroughs.

At each spot, the signal will extend out a couple of hundred feet. Good for those trying not to overdo it on their mobile device’s data plan. And in an added bonus, the spiffed up kiosks will be a boon to those who rely on using pay phones on a regular basis as well.

The program is part of Bloomberg’s NYC Digital Initative, and has the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications working on deals with several phone companies.

The only two times I’ve left my phone at home and tried to use a pay phone in this city I couldn’t find a working one within a 10-block radius that wasn’t jammed full of garbage, so this is a welcome change.

Pay Phone Wi-Fi Hot Spots Coming to NYC [NBC 4 New York]