Google In The Running To Turn NYC Pay Phones Into Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

A New York meeting providing information to companies interested in offering free Wi-Fi access counted Google among its attendees, according to a new Bloomberg report. Others at the event included IBM, Samsung and Cisco, but Google’s ambitions regarding blanketing the U.S. with free or affordable Internet connectivity could be a good reason so suspect it’ll submit a compelling proposal to the NY Department of IT today to be the one to gird New York in wireless connections.

Google has already offered up free Wi-Fi in and around its offices in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC, where it has its main east coast office, and it has a number of other initiatives in the works to provide people in the U.S. and beyond with cheaper, more abundant access to connectivity. The benefit for Google is clear – the Internet giant only has as many potential clients as there are connected consumers, after all.

The plan NYC is running to enable its pay phone locations with Wi-Fi stipulates that providers can’t charge for it; they can instead charge for phone service, and incorporate advertisements. The request covers all of New York’s 7,300 pay phones, which would mean that the successful completion of a project would result in a city pretty much blanketed with free Wi-Fi. The RFP from the city also stipulates that users, once connected to one payphone hotspot, can connect to any other in the city without having to login anew.

If this project goes through, regardless of whether Google is at the helm, it will mean a new level of connectivity that doesn’t depend on cellular data subscriptions to keep New Yorkers online. That’s a big step towards ubiquitous computing, and Google has good reason to aspire to that end goal.

Photo by flickr user ^ Missi ^