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Verizon Hangs Up On Phone Booth Hotspots

Company quietly pulls the plug on its plans to convert outdoor phone booths to hotspots as its 3G cellular data network expands.
Verizon Communications this week quietly dropped its effort to convert phone booths in New York to Wi-Fi hotspots.

That announcement was tucked into the middle of an otherwise inconsequential press release issued Wednesday by Verizon Wireless, which is co-owned by Verizon. The press release was touting Verizon Wireless' expansion of its 1xEV-DO 3G service in the New York metropolitan area, implying that other types of access, such as public hotspots, weren't necessary.

"As Verizon Wireless continues to expand its (3G) network to meet the future needs of customers seeking high-speed mobility, Verizon Communications has begun phasing out its Wi-Fi hotspot service in New York City," the company said in the press release.

The program was launched in 2003 in an attempt to both capitalize on the high visibility of Wi-Fi hotspots and to make use of the company's phone booths, which were receiving less and less use as cell phone usage increased. The program was initially developed as a benefit for Verizon's DSL customers and was never expanded beyond that.

In addition, Verizon never expanded the number of booths with the access. A company spokesperson acknowledged in late 2003 that the company was, perhaps, "overambitious" in its hotspots plans.