In 2015, New York City began to replace about 8,000 outdoor phone booths with a network of sidewalk Wi-Fi kiosks called Links that provide free high-speed Internet services for cell phones, as well as USB chargers and quick-call 911 emergency access. As of 2016, only four of the city's outdoor phone booths were still being used as pay phones; they are all located on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Phone calls that used to cost 25 cents are now free in the glass booths, but replacement parts are increasingly hard to track down.
NYC's final four phone booths:
- Alan Flacks, a pay phone fanatic who lives on West 100th Street, has led efforts to preserve phone booths in New York, with regular complaint calls to Verizon and other dogged lobbying efforts.
- “Sometimes you just need a hard-wired pay phone," said Flacks. “Cell phones don’t always work.”
- Phone booths like the one at West 100th Street inspired Peter Ackerman's 2010 children’s book The Lonely Phone Booth. In the book, a phone booth grows lonely as people move on to cell phones.