After the outcry over a contract that would have made the City’s proposed payphone-replacing wifi kiosks run slower in poorer neighborhoods, it seems like some changes have been made. A new proposal would move 400 of the high-speed wifi hubs into more neighborhoods in the outer boroughs, rather than clumping them all in Manhattan and the wealthier areas of Brooklyn and Queens.
“We took a good contract and we made it better,” City Controller Scott Stringer told the Daily News. That contract, with Titan Advertising and its partners, proposed to turn 10,000 payphones into wifi kiosks that will provide phone charging, internet access, and free local calls funded by advertising.
Of course, even with this intervention, there are still problems with the kiosk plan. Namely that they are funded by advertising and advertisers care more about getting into their message into the brains of people with higher incomes, no matter how good the city’s intentions are.
With the tweaks in place, the plan passed the Franchise & Concession Review Committee unanimously yesterday; Stringer must still sign off on it in order for the contract to go forward. Stringer, whose office published a report yesterday on the digital divide in internet access, has signaled that he still has concerns about the program.