New York Is Finally Replacing Its Phone Booths With Wi-Fi Hotspots

Free internet comes to the Big Apple.

Bye bye, phone booths! Image via Flickr user Paul Sableman

New York is finally getting its public-access Wi-Fi hubs, courtesy of some pretty outdated infrastructure. More than 7,500 phone booths across the city will be replaced with LinkNYC’s “access points.” Each of these towering hubs won’t just broadcast internet access within a 150-foot radius. It will also feature USB charging ports, large advertising displays, and a built-in touchscreen browser that will allow users to surf the web, look at maps, and even make free calls from the street.

And this free, public Wi-Fi will be pretty fast, up to 20 times speedier than the average broadband connection.

New York City announced its plan to transform phone booths to Wi-Fi hubs in November 2014, but it wasn’t until this week that workers began installing the first access point, near Manhattan’s Union Square. Expect about a week or two of beta testing before New Yorkers can use the hubs to get online.

The city will get about 500 more hubs by mid-July. When the project is completed, roving city dwellers should be able to hop from Wi-Fi hotspot to Wi-FI hotspot as they (and their smartphones) travel through the metropolis.

The Wi-Fi hubs are expected to bring in $500 million in advertising revenue for New York.

(Via The Verge)