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New York to replace city pay phones with powerful new digital hubs

Will Gleason

Recently dumped and heavy smoking New Yorkers woke up to the sad news today that they’ll have to find new sidewalk pit stops for their public cries/outdoor lighting alcoves. City officials announced this morning that, starting next year, thousands of pay phones across New York will be turned into sleek new Wi-Fi hot spots and digital hubs. The robots have won. 

The skinny, silver devices will replace the outdated phone booths across the city and offer free domestic calls and mobile charging, in addition to public Wi-Fi that’s 20 times as fast as the average home internet. That’s right, by the time Interstellar is released on iTunes, you may be better off walking across the street to a former pay phone to download it, than doing it at home. Talk about a futuristic journey! 

The new initiative behind the sidewalk devices is called LinkNYC, and plans to cover its $200 million construction costs entirely through advertising revenue from the kiosks’ digital displays. Once installed, the 10,000 towers will have a Wi-Fi range extending 150 feet in any direction, with up to 250 devices able to use a network at the same time without affecting service. 

In a statement, Mayor (And part-time landlord) Bill de Blasio called the new Wi-Fi hot spots “essential for everything we need to do to be a fair and just city.”  

And for all you nostalgic folks out there, the city will be leaving three old-fashioned “Superman” phone booths scattered along West End Avenue. (Hey, you never know when you might need to make a quick change.) 

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