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Old Posted May 5, 2014, 11:25 AM
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NYC to reinvent the pay phone for the modern age

New York City plans to build up to 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots by transforming outdated pay phone kiosks into modern communication hubs, and issued a request for proposals on Thursday from the private sector for the contract.

The city's plan, which began with a public outreach period in 2012, imagines the repurposing of 7,300 pay phone stands and new installations of many more in all five boroughs. The new communications hubs would prioritize internet connections, but still have the capacity for voice 911 calls.

“For years, the question was, ‘What to do with payphones?’ and now we have an answer," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. "By using a historic part of New York’s street fabric, we can significantly enhance public availability of increasingly vital broadband access, invite new and innovative digital services, and increase revenue to the city—all at absolutely no cost to taxpayers.”

The winner of the bid would be in charge of installation, maintenance and operation of the hubs, and must be deployed within four years. Digital advertising in commercial corridors would fund the lion's share of the work. City officials said the agreement will generate $17.5 million in revenue annually for through a franchise agreement through 2026.

While city officials say they're open to a broad range of design options, they hope the winning bids will include cell phone charging stations, touch screens to display public information or facilitate business transactions, and rely on solar energy or other independent power sources.
May 1, 2014
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