New York Converts Pay Phones Into Wi-Fi Hot Spots


Not content to just take away beloved amenities (cigarettes, giant sodas), New York City’s powers that be are piloting a program to turn old phone booths into public WiFi hot spots, with signals extending about 100 to 200 feet from each location. They’ll still be available for use as good old-fashioned phones, provided you aren’t concerned about germs or what I assume is still the very real threat of hypodermic needles in the coin slots.

“One of the most frequent requests from New Yorkers is for more public WiFi in public spaces,” said Rachel Sterne, the city’s chief digital officer (did you know we had one of those?). “The city and partners have taken all security measures and we will continue to make sure it is the best possible experience for New Yorkers who are signing on to the Wifi.” Under the network names “Free WiFi” and “NYC Free Public WiFi,” the network will not collect personal information or restrict access to any sites, wink wink.

Out of 12,360 currently active pay phones across the city, just 10 are being converted for the pilot program, and only 2 of those will be in Brooklyn for the time being. If you’re inclined to download a little porn, check your OKCupid profile, or, you know, just check out this surprisingly cool new government initiative, WiFi booths are now located at 545 Albee Square and 2 Smith Street at the Fulton Street Mall.

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  1. “Free WiFi” and “NYC Free Public WiFi” — neither of these access points were visible at the 1609 Broadway location but 20 others were. So this may not actually be set up yet, contrary to the current reports.