It’s the cellphone of last resort.
New Yorkers stuck with a battery-drained iPad or BlackBerry will soon be able to turn to the city’s newest “pay phones” — computer kiosks that let users buy access to the Web, e-mail and various apps.
The Jetsons-style setup — dubbed MIKE, or My Internet Kiosk Everywhere — will soon replace every single antiquated pay phone throughout the city, The Post has learned. Units will feature 22-inch touch screens that will have cameras for video applications and will be outfitted with electrical outlets so users can juice up their own phones and laptops while staying connected.
The upgrades will be paid for by California-based Pacific Telemanagement Services, the company that last year took over Verizon’s stock of public pay phones after the communications giant decided it wasn’t making enough money off them. “Before cellphones, pay phones were a way for people in motion to have contact,” said Kurt Gibbs, a PTS vice president who gave The Post a look at the pay phone of the future.
“This is where technology is going. It’s next in the evolution of the pay phone.” PTS has bought several old pay-phone franchises. In November, it took over 16,377 Verizon units in New York state.
The Internet phones will soon show up at Penn Station, and then to other public locations, such as hospitals and schools. In a matter of months, 100 MIKE systems will be installed around the city. PTS charges 50 cents for a 15-minute call and $1 for four minutes on the Internet. Users can pay with cash or plastic.
The devices also cater to tourists who are traveling light or for those who can’t afford a smartphone, officials said. “It’s futuristic,” said Pamela Andrews, a Brooklyn resident who was surprised to be asked to try out MIKE. “It would have been great to have this when we were on vacation.” One drawback, she said, was users’ ability to surf while talking on the phone, “I wouldn’t pay attention to my call,” she explained.
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