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Verizon Scales Back NYC Hot-Spot Plans

The carrier says it will still operate 500 hot spots, but that its original plans may have been overambitious.
Verizon says it's scaling back its plans to place wireless hot spots in phone booths in New York.

The company said in May that it would place as many as 1,000 hot spots in its pay phone booths in New York City. But this week, it said it would put only 500 hot spots in place, with most of them in Manhattan and only a few in Brooklyn and Queens.

A Verizon spokeswoman says the company has about 400 hot spots operating in New York and will have another 100 in place by year's end. After that, the company has no plans to expand its hot spot presence in New York, she said. "Maybe we were a little overambitious because nobody had ever done this," the spokeswoman said. "We learned a lot of lessons, like there are places where it's not a natural fit for getting out your laptop."

For instance, in many locations, there were other hotspots nearby, she said. In other cases, the phone booths simply weren't near places where people would logically want to open their laptops and connect to the Internet.

"We discovered there were donut shops, coffee shops, and so on, and that people could go there to get their hot spot," she said. "We found it wasn't necessary to use every pay phone. Not every location was a natural fit."

In addition, the spokeswoman said, it took a lot longer than the company expected to get electricity to some of the hot spots. Electricity is necessary to power both the DSL backhaul and the hotspot equipment.

The hot spots are a free service for Verizon's landline broadband users. The company's thinking was that the hot spots would promote the loyalty of those users and attract new users.

Besides not expanding hot spots in New York, she said, the company isn't looking to place hot spots in other cities. Verizon provides service in major metropolitan areas such as Boston and Philadelphia.

"There's nothing imminent in other cities," she said. "This was a test and we're still assessing everything. We're also looking at the best technology for delivering wireless high-speed access."

That analysis includes next-generation wireless service offered by Verizon Wireless, the spokeswoman said.