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Free Wi-Fi Kiosks Prompt Concerns Of Potential Misuse By Homeless New Yorkers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Superfast, free wi-fi is rolling out across New York City.

Payphones are being replaced with high-tech kiosks that offer internet access and smartphone charging, but some fear they're becoming hotspots for the homeless.

Adam Hamilton was charging his phone at a LinkNYC kiosk on Eighth Avenue.

"I think it's great because, you know, it's paid through advertisements. People need free wi-fi," he told CBS2's Tony Aiello.

It's part of an effort to help the one in four New Yorkers who don't have high-speed internet access at home.

But people making themselves comfortable at the kiosks - many of them homeless - is already an issue for some New Yorkers who have taken to documenting the problem on social media.

"I've been noticing homeless people hang out dancing in groups -- dancing in front of it. It's weird, and I don't think it's used for the right way," Melanie Landano said.

Near the Port Authority Bus Terminal, one man sat at a kiosk for 30 minutes as commuters squeezed past.

"He's obviously trying to get something done, so it's no a problem for me," Chris Palatucci said.

But Rob Bijoyan said one homeless man recently spent six hours plugged into a kiosk.

"It is very unpleasant, it actually seems like it pulls these people to the units themselves," he said.

LinkNYC knows about the concerns.

"We are in conversations with the city about how to ensure that links remain open and accessible for all, and are not monopolized by any individual users," LinkNYC said.

They have also responded to complaints about noise from the speaker by reprogramming the unit so it only goes to 50 percent volume at night.




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