Further proof New York's real estate market is inflated: The city plans to sell space on top of lampposts to wireless phone companies for $21.6 million a year.
The equipment would be attached to 18,000 of the city's 200,000 lampposts. T-Mobile USA Inc., Nextel Partners Inc., IDT Corp. and three other wireless carriers want the equipment to increase their networks' capacity.
``Manhattan has 100 percent coverage, but if you're driving along the West Side Highway at peak hours, you might not be able to get on the phone,'' thanks to network congestion, said Gino Menchini, the city's commissioner for information technology.
One part of the 15-year deal is cheap Wi-Fi phones for neighborhoods where less than 95 percent of residents have home phones. IDT, which has agreed to market the cheaper phone service in those neighborhoods, would pay lower rates for poles there than other companies would in wealthier areas.
No wireless equipment is on the lampposts yet, because the plan must undergo an aesthetic review by the city's Art Commission. Rules are strict: the equipment has to be the same color as the lamppost, cannot carry logos and must meet size constraints.
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