Google, Verizon, Samsung, And Others Want To Make New York City Pay Phones Useful Again

Eerily similar to cell phones, internet connectivity might be the next step for pay phones.

As public phone booths grow less and less useful to New Yorkers, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg began a plan in 2012 to give the city’s 7,300 pay phones purpose, Bloomberg reports.

Several tech giants met in May for information about a project to turn every phone booth in New York City into a Wi-Fi hotspot, among them Google, Samsung, Verizon, and Cisco. Proposals for the contract are due July 21.

The project would allow the service provider to charge for phone service, and collect money from advertising, though Wi-Fi would have to remain free. The city currently offers free Wi-Fi at a mere 20 locations across the five Burroughs, according to the Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications. But with help from one of tech’s best, this is likely to change soon.

Google already offers free Wi-Fi around its West Coast and East Coast main offices in Mountain View, California, and New York’s Chelsea neighbourhood, respectively, Bloomberg reports. The company is also working to bring broadband to select cities under its Google Fibre program.

While landing a contract would obviously benefit whichever superstar service provider has the proposal, connectivity would bring a huge benefit to the city overall. Those 7,300 Wi-Fi hubs would essentially turn New York into one of the world’s biggest wireless hotspots.

That’s not the first we’ve heard about companies finding new uses for old tech. At the Fortune Brainstorm conference in Aspen, Colorado, last week, Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg said that 5G is coming soon and not only will it be faster, but it will also be smarter and be located in weird spots, like telephone polls.

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