Verizon Scales Back NYC Hotspot Plans

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Verizon said this week that it is scaling back its plans to place wireless hotspots in phone booths in New York.

The company announced last May that it would place as many as 1,000 hotspots in its pay phone booths in New York City. It said this week, however, that it would put only 500 hotspots in place. Almost all the hotspots will be in Manhattan, with a few each in Brooklyn and Queens.

Currently, about 400 hotspots are operating in New York and another 100 will be in place by the end of the year, according to Verizon spokesperson Briana Gowing. After that, the company has no plans to expand its hotspot presence in New York, she said.

"Maybe we were a little overambitious because nobody had ever done this," said Gowing. "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, Gowing 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 hotspot," she said. "We found it wasn't necessary to use every pay phone. Not every location was a natural fit."

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

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

Besides not expanding hotspots in New York, Gowing said the company is not looking to place hotspots in other cities. It 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, Gowing said.

This story courtesy of TechWeb.

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