In this Aug. 16, 2016 photo, Matthew Kane charges his phone while panhandling at a wi-fi kiosk at 39th Street and 8th Avenue in New York. (AP Photo/Karen Matthews)
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Homeless are avid users of free web kiosksNEW YORK: An effort to replace obsolete pay phones with Wi-Fi kiosks that offer free web surfing and phone calls has been a hit with panhandlers and the homeless, the least wired people in the city. Kane, who said he was staying with acquaintances "here and there," guessed about half of the people he sees using the kiosks are homeless.There are free domestic calls provided by Vonage, a headphone jack and a USB port for cellphone charging.People who have their own smartphones and laptops can use the free Wi-Fi broadcast from each kiosk by registering an email address."You have people sitting on castaway street furniture or milk crates, and some of them seem to be there long amounts of time," said Dan Pisark, vice president for retail services at the 34th Street Partnership, a business group.CityBridge and city officials who oversee the program say they aim to provide internet access to people who don't have it, though not to the homeless specifically.Some 350,000 people have signed up for and have used the Wi-Fi alone, and tablets have been used 60,000 times per week, according to a spokeswoman for the program.
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