There's a plan for what to do with payphones that are scattered around the city: Replace them with kiosks that offered superspeed Wi-Fi, free domestic calls and even charging stations.

The city has been considering what to do with payphones for the past two years, with a Reinvent The Payphone design competition during the Bloomberg Administration. One of the finalists was a collaboration Control Group and Titan Outdoor, who are now part of the consortium called City Bridge selected to head up the post-payphone world.

According to the Washington Post, Citybridge, which also includes "telecom giant Qualcomm... and the hardware company Comark" will "deploy throughout the city thousands of modern-day payphones that will offer 24-hour, free gigabit WiFi connections, free calls to anywhere in the U.S., touchscreen displays with direct access to city services, maps and directions for tourists, and charging stations (for the cell phones you'd rather use). The devices will also be capable of connecting people straight to emergency responders, and broadcasting alerts from the city during emergencies like Hurricane Sandy."

Their contract with the city, which will replace New York's previous 15-year contract to maintain and operate public payphones, calls for construction of the network to begin in 2015. Ultimately, as many as 10,000 of the machines will be installed across New York, replacing roughly 4,000 old-school payphones that currently generate advertising revenue for the city.

Privacy issues

still to be determined.

And just how fast is gigabit Wi-Fi? The city explains, "Gigabit Wi-Fi is more than a 100 times faster than the average public Wi-Fi and more than 20 times faster than the average home Internet service in NYC. Downloading a two-hour HD movie can take as little as 30 seconds."

The contract must still be approved by the city.