New York transforms payphone booths into free Wi-Fi zone

New York: New York City has initiated a connectivity campaign that is designed to transform payphone booths with ultra-fast Wi-Fi hotspots, the media reported on Tuesday.

The LinkNYC programme is a 12-year plan to gradually transform the city's old payphone stands into three-metre-tall, futuristic kiosks that will provide a spectrum of service features including free Wi-Fi hotspots, free domestic phone calls and internet browsing services to local residents and about 60 million visitors annually, General Manager Jen Hensley said on Monday.

According to Hensley, the company has built some 140 kiosks along the city's 3rd and 8th Avenues in the testing period starting January, of which, 40 are activated and ready to serve, Xinhua news agency reported.

The service will provide free 1000Mbps gigabit Wi-Fi connection to up to 256 devices per unit, which is 50 times faster than the average speed of public wireless service in New York. It is said to be the fastest public Wi-Fi service in the world.

Every LinkNYC kiosks provides Wi-Fi coverage within a radius of approximately 46 metres, said Hensley. Users require only an an email address to get online.

Each of the kiosks is also equipped with an Android tablet and a keypad, which allows users to make domestic phone calls, browse the internet and check city maps free of charge. Users can also charge their devices through provided USB ports, call 911 emergency services with a designated button, and even pay for parking tickets.

"These kiosks are beautiful city furniture," said Hensley, adding "It is a transformational opportunity for people to get the connectivity they want and become accustomed to in their everyday mobile lives."

About 500 kiosks will be activated for use by July 2016, and a total of 10,000 units are expected to be installed throughout the 12-year programme.

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