Making Payphones Relevant Again: New York City is turning them into wifi hotspots

Back in the day, payphones were an important tool for staying connected on the go. After all, without cell phones, how could you call a much-needed tow truck or check in at home? But now that practically everyone has a smartphone (or two), what's to become of all those useless, ancient relics of a time when the landline was king? New York City has an idea: Turn those unused payphones into free wifi hotspots.

According to the city's official Tumblr page, this is a pilot program that is starting with ten hotspots, but will eventually spread to all five boroughs. Seven of the wifi locations are in Manhattan, but Astoria in Queens and Brooklyn Heights will get trial locations, as well.

The free wifi locations will have a range of about 300 feet, a feat it owes to military-grade antennas. Users won't have to pay for the service, but they will have to click through a local tourism advertisement to start surfing the web. We're glad New York is employing such a novel way to provide free wifi, and we're especially glad they're not exploiting the homeless to do it, like a controversial plan executed at the SXSW conference.

[Image credit: City of New York]
[via Ars Technica]

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Tecca

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