In a noteworthy move which will mark innovative use of the antiquated payphones, New York City's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications has announced a new pilot program under which the old payphones in the city will be transformed into `free and unlimited' Wi-Fi hotspots.
With the city's first payphones-turned-Wi-Fi hotspots introduced by the department on Wednesday, the new pilot program will essentially offer free public Wi-Fi access for the people of the five boroughs, by making use of the existing infrastructure which is already in place in the city.
To begin with, the free unlimited Wi-Fi kiosks are being introduced in 10 locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens; with the service to be extended to The Bronx and Staten Island in the next few months. In all, there are 12,360 payphones in New York City, and they could all be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots.
The free-of-charge public Wi-Fi service will be available for New York City residents and visitors, who will be able to connect their smartphones, tablets or laptops to the Internet; with the Internet services being provided in collaboration with Van Wagner and Titan.
Noting that the pilot program involving Wi-Fi-equipped payphones will enable New York City administration to "enhance existing telecommunications infrastructure in an innovative way," Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul Merchant said: "Expanding public access to broadband technology across the five boroughs, be it wired or wireless, is at the heart of the Bloomberg Administration's efforts to promote greater digital inclusion for New Yorkers."