I keep walking past Public Telephone boxes that have been long gutted of their old payphones. While the importance of this quickly depleting public utility was demonstrated first-hand during our recent clash with Hurricane Sandy, where lower Manhattan residents with dead cell phone batteries quickly learned where all the nearby public phones were with eager pockets full of quarters.
This is a re-purposing of the defunct public phone booth as imagined by me. For a mere quarter, you'd get 15 minutes of uninterrupted WiFi with an auto-expiring password displayed on the unit.
Of course, you're obligated to stay within a few feet of the box while you use it, but that seems a small price to pay for untethered anonymous access to the internet. If a city did this right, the network of points could allow walk-about access in an open mall area, while still monetizing the costs. Every point would use a running list of auto-expiring passwords that are generated every minute, so you can sell access in blocks of time.
After a bit of research, this phenomenon already exists in Japan
Vending Machines are everywhere in Japan, selling a huge range of goods (eggs, booze, food, and of course every drink in a bottle/can). They are light-years ahead of us when it comes to vending technology. I stumbled across this near year-old post on TechCrunch that famed beer-maker (and distributor) Asahi was integrating WiFi into all of their vending machines.