Wi-Fi in NYC Pay Phones: Second Time's a Charm?
The city is working with pay-phone companies Titan and Van Wagner to install the hot spots, according to NY1 TV.
The first hot spot was opened up in a kiosk near Columbus Circle in Manhattan Wednesday, and the city has installed 10 hot spots in total around the boroughs. The pilot scheme will be extended if it's a success.
What a lot of New Yorkers may have forgotten is a similar plan was tried in the city nearly a decade ago by Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ). The operator started offering free Wi-Fi access to its DSL users in certain parts of town. (See Verizon: WLAN, Phone Home.)
Verizon killed the project in 2005 as it never really took off. It's been one of several efforts to use New York's broken down pay-phone infrastructure.
I think this latest venture, however, is much more likely to succeed. For one, it's free and open to all and -- unlike 2003 -- people actually have Wi-Fi in their phones and tablets, not just restricted to bulky laptop computers. Cap this off with a desire not to bust through operator-imposed data caps, and you can see why more available Wi-Fi is welcome to many users.
Free Wi-Fi in the city is booming, in fact. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) said in June that people had made 2.7 million connections to the Wi-Fi in the parks project it launched with the government last year. (See Report: AT&T to Put Wi-Fi in 20 NYC Parks.)
Meanwhile, it is a good way to reuse the 13,000 pay phones dotted around the city: After all, when was the last time you made a call on one?
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile