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Google Turns 10,000 New York Old Phone Booths Into Free SuperFast Wi-Fi Internet

Google has unveiled its new plan to bring Free, Superfast Wi-Fi to cities around the world.
Google is one of the many companies vying to transform New York City's increasingly anachronistic phone booths into Wi-Fi hot spots. (example the Van Wagner)

Google is no stranger to the business of Wi-Fi connectivity. The company has a project called Fiber, which aims to provide revved-up broadband speeds to Internet users. Google also has an ambitious initiative called Loon that seeks to bring connectivity to rural areas via high-altitude, giant Wi-Fi balloons.

The company also provides wireless access around its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters and its office in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood. Last July, Google announced that it would give $600,000 to San Francisco to provide Wi-Fi access to several of the city's parks.

The project was first unveiled in 2012 by then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a way to repurpose the city's more than 73,000 phone booths. In October, several of the city's existing contracts with companies that maintain and operate public pay phones will expire, and the city is looking at alternative infrastructure plans. The companies that are trying to take over the pay phones are allowed to charge for phone service -- excluding calls to 911 and 311, the city's informational phone line -- but are barred from charging for Wi-Fi access.

The strategy expands Google's reach -- in turn allowing more people to use the company's products and services. Google declined to comment on the NYC pay phone project.

Sidewalk Labs, a Google-owned company that focuses on improving city living through technology innovations, has announced that the company will roll out free WiFi to everyone in New York City around September this year.

Google-backed Sidewalk Labs will convert over 10,000 New York's old phone booths into ad-supported "Wi-Fi pylons." These booths will offer free wireless Internet access to anyone within 150 feet of radius.

Sidewalk Labs is leading a group of investors acquiring Control Group and Titan, companies working to cover New York City with Free, Superfast Wi-Fi service.

Besides offering free Wi-Fi, the booths are also intended to provide free cell-phone charging, free domestic phone calling and a touchscreen-based information hub that provides you everything you need to know about the city and transit directions.

According to the report, each Wi-Fi pylon will deliver advertising on the sides through Titan's advertising network, which is expected to bring $500 million in ad revenue to the city over the next 12 years.

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