Vendors hope the limited "FreeBostonWi-Fi" trial will expand to 400 payphones by next summer.
The latest evidence of the widespread trend of repurposing aging municipal infrastructure will soon be available in Boston. According to a report on Boston.com, Boston's Department of Innovation and Technology has endorsed installing Wi-Fi at 16 payphone sites near City Hall, Faneuil Hall, Downtown Crossing and Long Wharf.
The move was announced last week by the four companies involved in the effort: RCN Business Services, LCC International Inc., Pacific Telemanagement Services and DAS Communications. Four unadvertised demo sites were set up in conjunction with the announcement, and received heavy usage.
Tyler Katz, President of DAS Communications, told Boston.com that about 2,000 devices connected to the as yet unpromoted service at a payphone by City Hall, spending an average of 17 minutes using the connection. "People were using it quite a bit," he said. "There's a demand for this."
DAS Communications currently provides Wi-Fi at 20 payphones in New York City. NYC officials began a limited payphone Wi-Fi trial in summer 2012, and now plan to extend the service to all of the city's payphones. In Boston, partners hope to extend the service to 400 payphones by summer 2014.
Boston's Wi-Fi, which will utilize small cell technology, will be available 24 hours a day at no cost to users. Signals will be available at a range of up to 200 feet from the payphone kiosk.
Photo from Shutterstock: Faneuil Hall (right) and Boston. Copyright Caitlin Mirra.