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.