Google Might Turn New York Payphones Into Wi-Fi Hotspots

Kate Patrick Contributor
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New York is turning its outdated payphones into something more practical: Wi-Fi hotspots.

Since most people own cellphones, it makes sense to provide free Wi-Fi rather than a public payphone, according to a report from Bloomberg.

A document on New York City’s Information Technology and Telecommunications website reads, “The widespread adoption of mobile devices reduces the overall need for public telephones, yet not everyone owns a mobile phone, and not everyone who owns one has connectivity at all times. The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) is currently exploring the future of the public pay telephone and potential alternative or additional forms of telecommunications facilities on NYC sidewalks, such as wireless access.”

TechCrunch reported that Google, Samsung, Cisco and IBM attended a meeting to discuss possible wireless options, with Google leading the pack. An announcement released on Monday revealed that the city has officially decided to go forward with the project. New York is still undecided about which tech giant will pave the way, but because Google already provides wireless access in the Mountain View and Chelsea neighborhoods, Google is likely to win out.

The city’s announcement listed Brooklyn Heights, Astoria, Soho, the Fur-Flower District, the Theater District, Grand Central, Midtown and Upper West Side as the first eight neighborhoods to begin utilizing payphones as hotspots.

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