NYC Phone Booths May Be Used for Wi-Fi Hot Spots

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -

Google is among several technology companies considering a plan that uses payphone locations to give New Yorkers free wireless internet access.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company was among more than 50 attendees at an informational meeting in May for the project, according to a city document. Bids for the proposal were due on Monday.

The No. 1 search provider is stepping up efforts to provide digital access in the U.S. and around the world as it seeks to get more consumers on the internet, benefiting its own user and ad services. The company, which is working toward rolling out broadband services in several U.S. cities, already provides wireless access in Mountain View and New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, where it has an office.

The project calls for new designs to replace payphones, providing “advertising, Wi-Fi and phone services” in all five boroughs. While the companies can charge for phone service, except for 911 and 311 calls, they can’t charge a fee for internet access, a document said. There are more than 7,300 payphones in the city.