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New York to swap pay phones for free WiFi

  |   July 11, 2012 at 5:59 PM
NEW YORK, July 11 (UPI) -- Pay phone kiosks in New York City -- where fewer and fewer people are making phone calls -- will be converted to free WiFi spots, city officials said.

Offering free broadband access is part of the city's "efforts to promote greater digital inclusion for New Yorkers," Rahul Merchant, the city's chief information and innovation officer, said.

Ten kiosks in a pilot program in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan will display "Free WiFi" on their sides, gothamist.com reported Wednesday.

Locations in the Bronx and Staten Island should soon follow, officials said.

The city hopes to spread the public WiFi throughout the city, as there are currently about 9,000 payphone locations in the city.

The range of the signal from the kiosks is estimated at between 100 and 200 feet depending on location, officials said.

Even though the city has been introducing more online access at schools, libraries and senior centers, they aren't open all the time, while the payphone kiosks would give 24/7 access to free WiFi, city Councilwoman Gale Brewer said.

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