New Yorkers get Free Payphone WiFi

After getting free (but spotty) WiFi at major public parks, New Yorkers can now look forward to free Internet access via public payphones under a new pilot program.

The radius of the Payphone WiFi service will be between 100-200 feet from the payphone where the equipment is installed.

NYC officials unveiled the Payphone WiFi initiative Wednesday at one of the Manhattan pilot locations – a payphone adjacent to the West 58th Street and Broadway pedestrian plaza.

10 Payphone WiFi Locations

NYC officials said the free WiFi is currently available at the following 10 locations under the pilot program:

Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill:
545 Albee Square
2 Smith Street

Astoria: 30-94 Steinway Street

SoHo: 402 West Broadway
Fur-Flower District: 458 Seventh Avenue
Theater District-Clinton: 28 West 48th Street
Grand Central-United Nations: 410 Madison Avenue
Midtown-Clinton: 1609 Broadway
1790 Broadway (event location)
Upper West Side: 230 West 95th Street

More locations – including in the Bronx and Staten Island – are expected to be launched in the coming months.

How to Access Payphone WiFi in NYC

People with tablets, laptops, iPods and other Internet-ready devices can access the payphone WiFi by selecting the “Free WiFi / “NYC Free Public WiFi” option on their devices, accept the terms and conditions and start browsing.

The city is promising that the free payphone WiFi will be available anytime and without limits on usage.

No personal information is supposed to be gathered during the pilot program. There will be no advertising either.

Apparently, the WiFi equipment attached to the payphones don’t affect the operation of the payphones.

Users can get technical assistance by contacting 311 – online, by phone, or by text at 311-692.

Payphone Use Falling in NYC

New York City has 12,360 public pay telephones on the City’s sidewalks, with 5,766 in Manhattan, 2,530 in Queens, 2,386 in Brooklyn, 1,553 in the Bronx, and 125 in Staten Island.

But pay phone usage has dropped significantly in recent years with the proliferation of cell phones.

In the last couple of years, I’ve rarely seen people using payphones in Manhattan.

So maybe the Payphone WiFi initiative in NYC is a good idea.

Instead of using the payphones merely as an advertising medium, let’s use them to envelop the city in WiFi.

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