New York City is installing free Wi-Fi on payphone kiosks. The hotspots are initially coming to ten payphones in three boroughs and will be open to the public to access for free.
Users must agree to the terms, then visit the city’s tourism website first. Currently, there are no ads on the service, but there may be in the future. It’s part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s NYC Digital Initiative, which kicked off with appointing a new Chief Information and Innovation Officer in April.
The city’s payphones, which have attracted crime, have been outfitted with “military grade” antennas. The $2,000 installation is being provided for free by Van Wagner Communications, which owns many of the city’s payphones and provides outdoor advertising and Titan Communications. As of April 23, 2012, there were 12,729 active public payphones on the city’s sidewalks, according to DoITT — down from approximately 45,000 payphones in the five boroughs at their 1980s peak.