Phone booths may regain their relevance with the help of Google

Phone booths may regain their relevance with the help of Google

Payphones may be considered obsolete with the invention and popularity of cell phones, but Google plans on changing that.


In May, the Google financed startup, Sidewalk Labs, was created to make technological changes that will enhance efficiency in U.S. cities. The company recently announced its investment in LinkNYC’s plan to repurpose 10,000 New York City payphones into information kiosks with free Wi-Fi hotspots.


Street shot of New York City

LinkNYC’s 12-year plan will convert photo booths to a more relevant tourist attraction.(

LinkNYC started as the winning concept in New York City’s Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge. The plan was to use payphones to offer free Wi-Fi as well as cell phone charging stations with screens and free access to internet, local information, and nationwide calls.


Now that Sidewalk Labs is part of this project, it’s unclear what the full scope of this transformation will include. The company seems to be going after even bigger changes.




LinkNYC’s plan will take 12 years before all 10,000 phone booths are converted into kiosks, and the project will cost $200 million. The project will be funded through advertisements on each side of the kiosks. It’s estimated that ads will bring in roughly $500 million in revenue to New York City.


The phone booth conversion project is making its start later in 2015. If all goes well, Sidewalk Lab’s plans to spread this model to other cities in the United States. Once these phone booths start receiving massive updates, they will have once again found a place in our on-the-go society.


How will these kiosks impact New York City? Leave a comment or talk to me on Twitter @Karbowski_Devon.

Devon Karbowski

Devon Karbowski graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2015. He received a BA in Writing Studies with an emphasis in Professional Writing and a minor in Philosophy. Currently, he is using his degree to pursue a career in freelance writing, proposal writing and social media management. The focal point of his MUI PR articles will involve public relations related topics.

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.