NYC Getting Pay Phones of the Future with Free WiFi, Charging Stations and More

Posted On Tue, November 18, 2014 By

Posted On Tue, November 18, 2014 By In Technology, Urban Design

Remember the good old days of frantically running around looking for a pay phone and then realizing you were out of change and had to make a collect call? Well, that’s soon to be nothing more than a distant memory, as New York City is turning its remaining pay phone booths into forward-looking tech hubs that include free 24-hour WiFi, free domestic calls, charging stations, and touch screens with access to city services and directions. Officially dubbed LinkNYC, they’ll also be able to connect people with emergency responders and broadcast city alerts during emergencies like Hurricane Sandy.

LinkNYC, CityBridge, NYC pay phone, pay phone of the future

Back in May, Mayor de Blasio issued a request for proposals to reimagine the many useless pay phones dotted around the city. The winning design comes from a consortium called CityBridge, which is made up of media company Titan, already a pay phone franchisee, design firm Control Group, wireless provider and tech advisor Qualcomm and hardware manufacturer Comark. If approved, CityBridge will start installing 10,000 LinkNYC kiosks in early 2015, a plan which will cost the city $200 million. Revenue will come from advertising on outside screens, similar to those on the side of bus stops, which is expected to generate $500 million over the next 12 years. Fifty percent of the revenue will go to the city, which also plans to auction off some of the roughly 6,500 original pay phones that Link will replace.

LinkNYC, CityBridge, NYC pay phone, pay phone of the future

The muted grey kiosks are tall and thin, 9.5 feet high and less than a foot wide, but the design is still subject to review from the city’s design commission. According to the New York Times, “the network would be 100 times as fast as average municipal Wi-Fi systems, and more than 20 times as fast as average home Internet service in the city. A two-hour movie, officials said, could be downloaded in about 30 seconds.” WiFi from a kiosk will reach a 150-foot radius, and up to 250 devices can connect at once without reduced speed. The city’s official LinkNYC website says that the project “is expected to create 100 to 150 new full-time jobs in manufacturing, technology and advertising, plus an estimated 650 support jobs.”

Thoughts on the pay phone of the future? Share them in the comments.

[Via New York Times]

Images via CityBridge

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