July 29, 2014

That Old Payphone Could Be Your New Favorite Hotspot

Have you noticed there are hardly any payphones left? Good news for the sad little boxes still in existence, they may become relevant once again. Bloomberg recently reported that nearly 50 top companies (think Google, Samsung and Cisco) met to discuss a plan to turn New York City’s old-school payphones into free Wi-Fi hotspots. (Genius, right?) The informal get-together was a direct response to an RFP issued by New York City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

These low-tech urban artifacts could become new Wi-Fi wonders.These low-tech urban artifacts could become new Wi-Fi wonders.

While turning eyesore payphones into useful hotspots is new and exciting, transforming archaic structures into modern entities with new benefits is a trend that has been growing in the recent past. This new directive is another step to flip outdated infrastructure into valuable tools that serve city constituents on the go.

The introduction of the mobile phone has made payphone usage nearly obsolete, and as our own survey results suggest, smartphones are one of the most coveted personal property items – especially to younger generations. Couple the popularity of mobile devices with people connecting via internet platforms and email; it’s no surprise to us that NYC would look to transform the current payphone infrastructure to provide more people, in more places, access to free Wi-Fi. And what if you need to drop a quarter for a quick call? Here’s hoping your fellow urbanites are kind enough to share their phones in a pickle.