New York City just finished accepting bids for a proposed plan to turn the city’s pay phones into free wireless Internet hot spots.
The city’s Department of Information Technology and Communications issued a request for proposal earlier this year and has garnered interest from tech giants such as Google, Cisco and Samsung in the project.
The initiative calls for new designs for the city’s more than 7,300 pay phones, providing advertising, Wi-Fi and phone services in all five boroughs. The winning company can charge for phone service – except for 911 and 311 calls – but cannot charge a fee for Internet access.
“The widespread adoption of mobile devices reduces the overall need for public telephones, yet not everyone owns a mobile phone, and not everyone who owns one has connectivity at all times,” a document on the city’s website said regarding the project.
The Wi-Fi hot spots will need to work together, enabling users to log in once and stay connected.
Google appears to be a primary player in this. The company already offers free Wi-Fi to residents around its office in the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea.
The company has been working to install Google Fiber in a number of major cities around the nation with the thought that providing more Americans with faster connectivity equals even more traffic for the search engine and its ancillary businesses.