Is Internet access a right or a privilege? That's the debate raging around the country right now with the Net Neutrality debate. New York could be one of the first major US cities to land on the side of privilege with a proposed project to convert thousands of unused pay phones into free Wi-Fi hotspots.

You know, payphones? For the young people, before cell phones, there used to be telephones placed at random locations around the city for you to use. These days, they're rapidly being dismantled or abandoned. A new plan called LinkNYC would convert them into "Link stations." Each would broadcast Wifi over a 150 foot radius throughout all five boroughs, as well as broadcast public service announcements, and offer free charging for mobile devices. Oh, and also make domestic phone calls. Construction on the stations will begin next year with 10,000 planned over all.

Why are they doing this? How will this project be paid for? Obviously, advertising. The kiosks will show ads in exchange for the network. The project is estimated to cost $200 million, but could earn $500 million in revenue.

Personally, I think this is a pretty exciting concept. If it worked, imagine if it spread throughout the country, and Wifi became as ubiquitous as air.

[Via Mediapost via The Wall Street Journal]

Would you like a Link station near you?

Image source: "Nm toronto pay phones and newspaper boxes toronto". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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Pat Dilloway said...

The real question is can Superman change in these?

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

These days, Superman would have to find a Tardis...
I think it's a brilliant idea. I'm stunned any of those are still standing. I don't think I've seen one here in years.


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