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Verizon puts some N.Y. hot spots on ice

The telecommunications heavyweight is cutting back on the number of hot spots it plans to install in New York by the end of the year.

Verizon Communications is cutting in half the number of hot spots it planned to install in New York City by the end of the year.

In April, the New York-based telecommunications giant announced plans to install 1,000 Wi-Fi hot spots in pay phone locations by the end of the year. Hot spots are public places where people can connect to the Internet without wires. The move was meant to let subscribers of the company's digital subscriber line and dial-up services get free wireless access to a broadband connection within up to 300 feet of a pay phone.

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"We were the first major carrier to decide to do this, so we were in uncharted territory," said Briana Gowing, a spokeswoman for Verizon. "But after looking at where people needed the service, we felt we would have good coverage" with 500 access points instead of 1,000.

Gowing said that powering the access points in the pay phones was an issue for the company and slowed the rate of installation, but that was not behind the carrier's decision to cut the number of locations. Over the past month, the company has been working with cafe and coffee shop owners to place stickers in the windows of locations where Verizon's service is accessible indoors.

The company is evaluating other metropolitan areas to install access points in pay phones and is examining other wireless technologies such as CDMA20001x EV-DO. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications and European carrier Vodafone, is testing the next-generation high-speed cellular EV-DO service in San Diego and Washington, D.C.

"Both wireless technologies (Wi-Fi and cellular) are still being established, and carriers are still figuring out how the technologies fit into the wireless ecosystem," said Keith Waryas, an analyst with IDC. "We've always felt Wi-Fi would be a complementary service."

Wi-Fi is a term for wireless networking technology using 802.11 standards set by industry groups for sending and receiving data wirelessly in unlicensed radio bands.

Combining broadband service with Wi-Fi technology is a move meant to attract Verizon subscribers to as many services as possible, the idea being that the more that customers depend on a company, the less likely they'll be to leave it for a rival.

Service bundles currently include local phone, broadband access and cellular services. Verizon is testing whether Wi-Fi will successfully fit into its bundling tactics.