Company plans to turn NYC's trash cans into WiFi hotspots

NYC agreed to convert old payphones into hotspots back in 2014, and now a Massachusetts company called BigBelly wants to add connectivity to its smart trash cans, as well. BigBelly has applied for a grant from the Mayor's Office to be able to turn hundreds of its products into hotspots specifically for undeserved neighborhoods. It's been making high-tech solar-powered trash cans and recycling containers, which can detect if the garbage is too smelly, notify trash collectors and even compress their contents if they're near capacity, for a long time. The company tested its first two hotspot containers last winter in New York, measuring their activity and signal quality for a few hours per day.

BigBelly's hotspot trash cans will have speeds that reach 50 to 75 megabits per second -- enough to run a small business, according to Jeremy Schneider of Downtown Alliance, which helped the company conduct its initial test. It also helps that the containers are on ground level, so their signals won't be affected by skyscrapers. The company said its garbage cans can display public announcements and alerts in addition to providing free internet. Chances are they'll serve as digital billboards, as well, just like NYC's payphone-hotspots, since they need money to continue running. BigBelly plans to conduct more tests in the near future, and if it gets the government's support, it aims to begin equipping containers with WiFi connections as soon as this fall.

[Image credit: BigBelly]