CityBridge – New York City’s pay phones are beginning to disappear, but chances are nobody will miss them. They’re being replaced with new kiosks that offer everything except a private, enclosed space.

The new kiosks, called LinkNYC, will not only make phone calls, but they will make free calls to anywhere in the United States. They will also recharge mobile phones. And they’ll offer blazing fast Internet, capable of letting people download HD movies in seconds.

There will also be more of them. The network could grow to 10,000 kiosks; there are only about 8,400 pay phones now.

Council Lead Partner Qualcomm is part of CityBridge, a group of six companies building the new network of kiosks. Perhaps the best part is that it doesn’t cost the city anything. In fact, it’s expected to deliver hundreds of millions in revenues over the next decade.

They’re phones, just not ‘pay’ phones
New York is only really losing the ‘pay’ part of pay phones. The new kiosks not only make free calls, they also provide rapid access to 911 emergency help and government information and non-emergency services.

Given that there’s no enclosed space, or even a handset, phone calls are made over a speaker phone. Since many of the city’s pay phone booths are rarely used, the lack of privacy with the new kiosks may not be an issue.