Internet of Bins: Wi-Fi to come to New York trash cans

The struggle is real. Out and about and the 4G isn’t cutting it. People used to cheekily pop into cafes to use the loo – now it’s to briefly pilfer Wi-Fi.

Well, this rubbish situation might soon be fixed, with potential blanket Wi-Fi coming to the streets of New York, courtesy of … bins.

Waste management company Bigbelly has applied for a New York mayoral grant to turn rubbish bins (trash cans) into hotspots providing free internet.

The bins could be ideal as Wi-Fi hotspots as their street level location would remove issues with tall buildings blocking signals. The internet – of speeds up to 75Mpbs, fast enough to download a high-definition film in around 10 minutes – would be free to users, and paid for with advertisement revenue.

An example given on BigBelly’s blog would be an advertisement for Starbucks displayed on a bin near one of its coffee stores.

Municipal Wi-Fi has been mooted before, but potential pitfalls – as well as signal blocking – could include opposition from telecom companies and internet service providers (ISPs) which don’t take kindly to free internet being offered around cities.

However, in comments to ComputerWorld, BigBelly vice president of global marketing, Leila Dillon, said neither had proved an impediment in trials:

“We cooperate with the cellular companies – we work with whomever is willing to work with us, and has the best coverage.”

In 2014, New York approved the transformation of pay phones into Wi-Fi hotspots, to be rolled out by the end of 2015. The older pay phones will be turned into Wi-Fi towers known as “Links”, which will also offer charging points and free domestic calls.

Back in 2013, the City of London Corporation cracked down on startup Renew London, after it tracked data from passersby using Wi-Fi via smart bins.

Meanwhile, BigBelly has already proved an embracer of technology – providing solar-powered compactors, and bins which, when 85% full, send texts to refuse collectors. The Guardian has contacted for Bigbelly for comment.

Why have we yet to be enchanted by the internet of things?

Powered by article was written by Hannah Jane Parkinson, for on Thursday 16th July 2015 16.33 Europe/ © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010