When was the last time you used a payphone? In fact, when was the last time you even saw a payphone?
If New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio gets his way, the 9,903 payphones still on the streets could once again be critical in connecting people across the country.
Blasio has proposed a plan that will turn the city's existing payphones into public Wi-Fi hot spots. Such an ambitious plan would mean New York City has one of the country's largest Wi-Fi networks.
“Making these pay phones digitized, 21st-century Wi-Fi hot spots is going to be incredibly exciting for so many New Yorkers who otherwise have a hard time getting access,” Maya Wiley, counsel to the mayor, said Tuesday. She said the new structures had the potential to “level the playing field” for New Yorkers who cannot afford to subscribe to a broadband Internet service at home.
Of course, if approved, these new hot spots won't come without ads.
The structures would also introduce digital advertising at a new scale. It remains to be seen whether this would animate the streetscape and offer opportunities to small businesses — the pizza parlor that could advertise digitally on a kiosk just outside its door.
Some people are concerned about privacy issues that inevitably come with public Wi-Fi. On public Wi-Fi, corporations, advertisers and even the government will be able to collect potentially very sensitive information. Learn how to stay safe when you're using public Wi-Fi.