Wi-fi hubs could ring changes in NY
Pay phones on the streets of the Big Apple will become a thing of the past under a plan to replace them with stand-alone devices offering free wi-fi and nationwide phone calls, as well as mobile phone charging.
New York City mayor Bill de Blasio said LinkNYC, a plan proposed by a group of companies working together under the name CityBridge, was selected to replace the old pay phone system.
Up to 10,000 column-like devices would be placed in all five boroughs starting next year if the plan is approved by the city's Franchise and Concession Review Committee.
The devices, along with wi-fi, would also have touchscreens for users to access city agencies and digital displays for advertising and announcements.
They would replace 8,400 pay phones in 6,452 installations around the city. The only pay phones left would be three booth-style ones on the Upper West Side, preserved as pieces of New York City history.
Mr De Blasio said the plan would cost city taxpayers nothing as the money would come through revenues from the advertising, which the city said would bring in 500 million dollars (£320.5m) over the next 12 years.
The mayor said the system would expand access to broadband. "With this proposal for the fastest and largest municipal wi-fi network in the world - accessible to and free for all New Yorkers and visitors alike - we're taking a critical step toward a more equal, open and connected city," he said.
CityBridge comprises companies including Qualcomm Incorporated, Comark, Control Group and Titan. The city says the consortium has committed to making the devices in New York City and the LinkNYC programme is expected to create up to 150 jobs in manufacturing, technology and advertising, as well as 650 support jobs.