The unused and faintly depressing husks of pay phones around the city will soon be re-animated as WiFi kiosks and recharging stations.
In 2000, there were approximately 30,000 telephone booths across the Czech Republic; in 2007, the number was 25,000. Today, only about a quarter of those remain across the country’s streets.
Operator o2 has a plan transform them into information terminals, recharging stations, and WiFi hotspots.
But despite the drastic reduction in numbers, the traditional phone booth is still useful especially in smaller villages or areas without consistent mobile coverage and “that’s why they will not be left without phone booths for the foreseeable future,” said Martin Drtin from the Czech Telecommunications Office.
By integrating new technologies into existing infrastructure, Prague can reinvent these assets – providing more modern and free services to citizens. In New York City, Google’s urban innovation start-up Sidewalk Labs has made already its first big investment – turning NYC’s disused phone booths into 10,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.