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New York says goodbye to its payphones

Blog | By James Fletcher | Jun 22, 2020


In 2014 the City of New York opened a competition for the replacement of the city’s 12,000 payphones. For obvious reasons, nobody is ‘dropping quarters (25c)’ any longer to make a call as the world is now driven by data - emails and web browsing. The winner was LinkNYC and in 2015 they started installing these kiosks which permit free phone calls across the USA, free high speed wifi within 150ft, and free phone charging. Large screens with adverts fund the terminals. As with all new technology experiments, there have been unintended consequences - the facilities were initially monopolised by homeless people staying for hours. The technology was updated to curtail usage time, but they have provided a useful way for tourists, passers-by and the less fortunate to stay in touch and manage their lives in a digital world.