New York City will soon be taking the first steps toward becoming one huge WiFi hotspot for visitors as contracted crews will begin sometime this fall the process of dismantling and/or retrofitting some 10,000 telephone booth shells throughout the city’s five boroughs and turning them into Wi-Fi hotspots that have a range of about 45 meters. This reach is enough so that a visitor who sees one of the stations will be able to connect from the other side of New York’s widest streets or avenues.
The massive project—Link NYC—will take several years to complete, Fred Dixon, president and CEO of New York City & Company, told delegates to NAJ’s just concluded DigMe conference on travel technology at the Affinia Manhattan hotel, with about 100 converted booth spaces finished by the end of this year. The high-speed service will outstrip anything the visitor is used to in his or her travel experience, Dixon added.
As for the phone equipment in the booths, he said that they will all be replaced with devices that will enable users to plug in their ear buds and make free long-distance phone calls to anywhere in the USA.
But what about people who want to see those once-familiar telephone booths for reasons of nostalgia? Dixon, who explained that some people may recall that the Superman character of comic book, movie and television fame used to go into a phone booth to change from his street suit to his blue-and-red Superman costume, told delegates that a few booths in key location will be maintained as “antiques” for the curious and/or nostalgic visitor.