New York Mayor Plans To Transform Ancient Pay Phones Into Wi-Fi Hubs

Bill de Blasio wants to replace and update the city’s unused communication outlets.

By Leah Gonzalez - Source:
Photo © Chris Ford

Photo © Chris Ford

Practically everyone carries a mobile phone nowadays that the idea of still using payphones may seem odd to most people. In many places, payphones end up getting plastered with all sorts of ads and graffiti, or mostly unused and doomed to become relics. But not in New York City, it would seem.

The administration of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning to transform the city’s unused pay phones and turn them into “public communications structures” that would provide free Wi-Fi to the public and enough phone services to allow people to make free calls to numbers like 911 and 311.

Maya Wiley, Counsel to the Mayor, said in a press release, “The digital age holds great potential to better deliver services, and by reimagining 20th Century payphones as 21st Century connection points, we’re making broadband access more equitable and accessible to every New Yorker.”

The city, through the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), has sent out a request for proposals for the creation of a citywide internet hotspot network that would cover the five boroughs. The DoITT is looking for a single operator or a partnership to manage the entire system.

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