Print 14 comment(s) - last by Solandri.. on Jul 14 at 12:39 PM

NYC is running a trial on 10 phone booths at the moment

New York City has started turning its outdated pay phone booths into free Wi-Fi hotspots for local Internet use.

NYC has approximately 12,000 phone booths located throughout the five boroughs. While the city isn't looking to get rid of the phones inside these booths, it's looking to give them a bit of an update, considering most people carry cell phones nowadays and don't need pay phones very often.

The solution? Add Wi-Fi-enabled digital kiosks with SmartScreens. Each booth will have Wi-Fi routers at the top of the current booths, where people can stop to use the networks "Free WiFi" or "NYC Free Public WiFi." The networks will not require passwords, but users will have to agree to terms and conditions in order to use them.

NYC's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), along with advertising companies Van Wagner and Titan, have paid to install and manage the new Wi-Fi-enabled phone booths.

"The city and the partners have taken all security measures and we will continue to make sure its the best possible experience for New Yorkers who are signing on to the Wi-Fi," said Rachel Sterne, New York's Chief Digital Officer.

NYC is running a trial on 10 phone booths at the moment, where six are located in Manhattan, two are in Brooklyn and one is in Queens. More will be added over time throughout these three boroughs as well as Staten Island and the Bronx.

Source: ABC News

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This sounds like an excelent idea.
By ViroMan on 7/13/2012 5:35:37 AM , Rating: 2
Beware cash gobbling, large, slow ISPs, city municipals are out to stomp you with the citizens riotous boot.

RE: This sounds like an excelent idea.
By WalksTheWalk on 7/13/12, Rating: 0
RE: This sounds like an excelent idea.
By andrewaggb on 7/13/2012 2:39:14 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure why they down voted you. But I agree, why? and why is it free? It's not like phone booths are free to use/maintain, etc

I don't live in NYC, but if I did I'd rather have tax money going to something else.

RE: This sounds like an excelent idea.
By Solandri on 7/13/2012 3:00:31 PM , Rating: 2
If the bandwidth is low, it'll be close enough to free to provide the service. Most of the money to maintain phone booths is emptying the coins and wear and tear. With this you simply place a DSL modem/wifi router on the same line. No moving parts, and it's free so no coins to collect.

I know people still make fun of cloud computing, but we need to think ahead. Internet access is becoming more and more a ubiquitous and necessary part of modern life. Having a low-level amount of bandwidth blanketing your city and available for free is probably something that's going to happen eventually (since the phone carriers insist on charging an arm and a leg for wireless data bandwidth).

Think of it like public drinking fountains. Yes the water and the fountain isn't free, but the convenience to the public for access to a cheap resource makes it worth it.

RE: This sounds like an excelent idea.
By WalksTheWalk on 7/13/2012 4:25:56 PM , Rating: 4
Sounds like a fine place to setup a packet sniffer if I were a criminal and start collecting data or pushing malware and viruses. For the comparison to public drinking fountains you can get plenty of viruses from those too.

Several years back the city of Minneapolis, MN installed several drinking fountains that were "artfully designed" at a total cost of about $500,000. They were vandalized within months. That sounds like every public phone booth I've ever seen.

By WalksTheWalk on 7/13/2012 4:58:41 PM , Rating: 2
And for those that want the link to the fountains I mentioned:

And this is an article defending it. It's maddening.

By Solandri on 7/14/2012 12:39:16 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize access points can be configured so clients can't see each other? Properly set up, there's no way to push malware. You can still sniff the wifi packets, but those should be encrypted (with a second SSL layer of encryption for important traffic like accessing your bank account).

The bigger concern is someone setting up a rogue access point disguised to look like the real one. That can be used for a man in the middle attack.

By probedb on 7/13/2012 6:42:27 AM , Rating: 2
BT in the UK started doing this almost 10 years ago. I'm not entirely sure how many payphones still exist nowadays though :)

By Omega215D on 7/13/2012 9:06:37 AM , Rating: 2
Being born and raised in NYC I see a lot of phone booths and quite a few are dirty or need major repair and would welcome more Wi-Fi hotspots.

Still, there are payphones still being used and should still be in place. Not everyone has access to a cell phone or their phone battery has died. It's also useful in our subway stations as cell service is not available deep underground. They also come in handy when something happens that affects cell service (we've had 2 major occurrences so far).

By Cypherdude1 on 7/13/2012 7:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
Knowing how any big city is, it won't surprise me when reports surface that the Wi-Fi routers have been ripped out of these phone booths. It won't surprise me when reports surface that the routers are found in pawn shops in other states. ;^)

Furthermore, there can't be that many phone booths left anywhere. I can't remember the last time I have even seen a phone booth, let alone used one.

easy way to prey on people
By Souka on 7/13/2012 2:24:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'll just setup my own router with a similar SSID.

Phone Booth SSID: NYC-WiFi

People will connect... and I'll just hack on their system and steal their data, while providing them "free" wi-fi


RE: easy way to prey on people
By Cypherdude1 on 7/13/2012 7:26:26 PM , Rating: 2
The answer to that of course is an encrypted proxy. Several are fee-based but you can find other free encrypted proxies, such as Tor. ;^)

By quiksilvr on 7/13/2012 8:30:50 AM , Rating: 2
Free wifi!


By Motoman on 7/13/2012 10:12:31 AM , Rating: 2
Now all the drug dealers and hookers can use wifi calling on their cellphones and not have to use up their minutes!

"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook

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