Decrepit NYC Pay Phones Now Offering Free Wi-Fi

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 11:  A free Wi-Fi hotspot beams broadband internet from atop a public phone booth on July 11, 2012 in Manhattan, New York City. New York City launched a pilot program Wednesday to provide free public Wi-Fi at public phone booths around the five boroughs. The first ten booths were lit up with Wi-Fi routers attached to the top of existing phone booths, with six booths in Manhattan, two in Brooklyn, and one in Queens. Additional locations, including ones in the Bronx and Staten Island, are to be added soon.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
The sign to look out for.Photo: John Moore/2012 Getty Images

The city announced on Wednesday that it’s converting obsolete phone booths into Wi-Fi hot spots, starting with ten spots in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn that have already been hooked up for free Internet access. Users can log on without a password and there’s no usage limit. Rahul N. Merchant, Citywide Chief Information and Innovation Officer, says the goal is to add to the existing phones, not replace them. “We want to see what else our citizens want in a pay phone,” he said. Cell-phone-equipped New Yorkers don’t really need the pay phone anymore, but it’s nice that the booths will get to spend their final years as a base for a Wi-Fi router rather than just a receptacle for bodily fluids.