New York City is planning to put its rotting pay phones to good use by turning them into a massive WiFi network to supply Internet access. According to Gizmodo, the ambitious vision suggested by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year was requested by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications in its latest list of proposals. The request features a realistic budget for a realistic design for a “citywide WiFi network and state-of-the-art information hubs.” The plan would outfit up to 10,000 of the city’s 11,000 pay phones with hardware that would broadcast free, 24-hour WiFi within an 85-foot radius. The phones would become kiosks of up to 21.3-feet in length and 10.3 feet in height also equipped with at least enough telephone service to place a free 911 call. Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out more details in a statement (from 1NYC): “For years, the question was, ‘What to do with payphones?’ and now we have an answer.
By using a historic part of New York’s street fabric, we can significantly enhance public availability of increasingly-vital broadband access, invite new and innovative digital services, and increase revenue to the city—all at absolutely no cost to taxpayers.” The primary purpose of the machines won’t as much be to speed up the smartphones of pedestrians, but to act as a reliable Internet source for low-income residents who can’t afford home Internet access.
They will also act as emergency communication sources in the case of a power outage similar to Hurricane Sandy, as pay phones are powered by phone lines and not external generators. But no project this extreme would be proposed if it didn’t promise to bring in a decent amount of cash. The network will feature digital and standard, poster-based advertising, enough ad space to guarantee at least $17.5 million in annual revenue for New York.
This article first appeared on EliteDaily: