New York to make Wi-Fi Hot Spots from Pay Phones

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New York Payphone

In a very modern example of “out with the old, in with the new,” New York City is slowly changing its pay phone stations into free wi-fi hotspots.

Of the 12,360 pay phones in New York City, 10 of them have recently been converted as a way of replacing the obsolete eyesore, with many more promised in the coming months.

The free Wi-Fi is currently being offered through Van Wagner Communications and Titan Communication; private companies are paying for the installation and use of the hotspots as a way of improving the city, with each new booth costing $2,000 to refurbish.

Much of the problem with pay phones lies in their outdated use – too many people have mobile phones these days, driving down the demand for street-based phones. In fact, from its height of around two million phone booths in 2000, pay phones have dropped significantly from the streets.

Now numbering only 700,000, most are kept in major city buildings such as hospitals and police stations, where people are most likely in need of a quick call. The sad part is, most cities simply scrap the old phones, sending well over a million booths into the landfill.

It’s refreshing, then, to see programs actively finding new alternatives to development rather than just throwing away what isn’t needed anymore. New York’s replacement program is definitely a progressive way to reuse and recycle outdated technology. In this way, it isn’t simply “out with the old” – it’s outfitting the old to meet new demands.

Overall, it’s good to see an emphasis on reusing old materials. Aside from good phonetics, there’s a reason why the three Rs are listed as Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

  • Reducing consumption is the best way to eliminate waste because it isn’t being made in the first place.
  • Reuse of waste and old materials is second-best because the waste is being used without any further processes.
  • Recycle is the last because, for all the money spent on promoting recycling programs, it’s the most wasteful of the three due to the large emissions present in most recycling programs.

In fact, recycling plants and recycling trucks have carbon footprints higher than their trash-based alternatives. After all, landfills don’t have complex processes that remake glass, paper, and plastic – they simply throw them away.

Of course, that’s not to say that recycling isn’t a step in the right direction when it comes to maintaining our resources. It’s just that the other, better Rs need a little more attention.

In today’s fast-paced society, we’re building bridges before we’ve had a chance to burn our old ones. Outdated gadgets linger long after they have been replaced by newer innovations, cluttering up homes and cities alike. New York is in the right state of mind, breathing new life into old technology – let’s try our best to do the same.

Jerico is an English and Creative Writing student at the University of Toronto. He believes strongly in technology’s potential to reverse the damage that’s been done to the environment – if we can only cooperate as a global community! He hopes that, by writing progressive and informed articles, he too can make a difference in his community.