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Pay-phone kiosk comeback: New York City turning them into free Wi-Fi hotspots

If New York City isn’t already the most connected city in the US, it must be well on its way to becoming so. The latest initiative nudging the East Coast metropolis toward the possibility of a future city-wide public WI-Fi network comes from Van Wagner Communications, which has worked with the city government to create free Wi-Fi spots at 10 of its public pay-phone kiosks in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn. It certainly sounds like a great way to make use of a facility which, due to the proliferation of mobile phones in recent years, is fast becoming obsolete.

The move is part of a pilot scheme which could feasibly see all 12,360 of the city’s pay-phone kiosks kitted out with Wi-Fi antennas at some point in the not-too-distant future.

The Wi-Fi signal should stretch for up to 200 feet (60 meters) around the kiosk, with no limits imposed on bandwidth or usage. The kiosks themselves will remain operational for anyone choosing to use them in the traditional fashion – providing they haven’t been vandalized, that is.

Speaking to the New York Times, Rachel Sterne, the city’s chief digital officer, said one of the most popular requests from local residents was for more public Wi-Fi. The city hasn’t done badly so far. Free Wi-Fi hotspots can be found throughout its five boroughs, from the city’s libraries to a number of subway stations. Some of New York’s parks also offer the service.

Here are the exact locations of the pay-phone kiosks currently offering free Wi-Fi:


  • 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 and 1790 Broadway
  • Upper West Side: 230 West 95th Street


  • Astoria: 30-94 Steinway Street


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

[Image: NYC gov]

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