Nowadays telephone booths are obsolete objects. If you are a digital native you probably never noticed one of them. With the number of smartphone owners worldwide surpassing two billion, they have fallen into disuse. That’s why New York City decided to definitely say goodbye to neglected payphones and replace them with Wi-Fi hotspots.
As we rely more and more on internet access for everyday matters, Wi-Fi has almost become a public need. The initiative called LinkNYC will fulfill this longing with 10.000 hotspots built, most of them taking up the space currently occupied by phone booths. More than 7.000 of the New York existing outdoor payphones will be dismissed and replaced with so-called Links: Wi-Fi-emitting charging stations where users can make calls and benefit from different services. They will feature touch-screen displays to provide directions and maps, a tactile keypad with Braille lettering, a 911 button, a headphone jack, and USB charging.
“LinkNYC will fundamentally transform New York City and set the standard for responsive cities for years to come” said Control Group chief operating officer Colin O’ Donnell during a press statement. “This will be completely unlimited access. We’re going through all this effort to bring massive bandwidth to the streets and we really want to see people use it. So, we’re going to bring that connectivity and get out of the way”.
Contrary to payphones no coins or calling cards will be necessary, the service is free. TheWi-Fi kiosks will feature ads that will bring in at least twice the revenue as the payphones they’re replacing.
If you are a nostalgic type and want to make your last call from a New York City public pay phone before they disappear, you better grab that hand sanitizer and act fast! LinkNYC Wi-Fi hotspots are currently being installed and tested, and 7.500 hotspots are expected to be functional at the beginning of next year. What exactly will be done with the old pay phones still remains unclear.