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New York Experiments With Wi-Fi From Payphones 56

Posted by timothy
from the network-effects-in-full-effect dept.
Payphones have been famously disappearing from public life; cell phones and other means of communication have made them ever less important in many contexts (and for most people). Some places, it's hard to find not only payphones, but usable wireless signal as well. Still, there are a lot of payphones left in the wild (though the enclosed kind seem to be disappearing faster than on-premises ones), and now there's a plan in New York City to extend payphones' useful life by outfitting them as public Wi-Fi hotspots, beginning with a 10-phone trial already underway. It's not the first such project; we mentioned a similar multi-city wi-phone deployment in Canada 10 years ago. And in Austin, I've spotted at least one payphone fitted out as a solar-powered charging station for cellphones; probably not enough to get much charge, but at least it lets users place an emergency call with a flagging or dead battery. Covering Manhattan and the other boroughs with overlapping free Wi-Fi nodes, though, is a different beast entirely.
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New York Experiments With Wi-Fi From Payphones

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  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Thursday July 12, 2012 @02:07PM (#40630259) Homepage Journal
    Verizon tried this already in 2003 [wired.com]. It was a pretty cool idea, because they already had the phone booth real estate, and the presence of telephones at each one meant that they could use their existing DSL infrastructure for backhaul.

    Fast forward to 2012. Wifi is in far greater demand now than it was nine years ago, now that everyone's got tablets and other devices. Perhaps it is an idea whose time has come. However there will be stiff competition, particularly from cable companies in suburban areas where the wires are overhead. Many cable companies are now deploying thousands of devices that look like this [ruckuswireless.com] on the wires. They're Wi-Fi hot spots with built in cable modems. Once the density gets high enough, subscribers are likely to find one in nearly every public place they find themselves in.

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