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BT to replace phone boxes with new Wi-Fi and phone charging kiosks

The stands will open up on major high streets in London first, bringing super fast Wi-Fi and taking up less space

Published 25/10/2016

The phonebox is dead. Long live the phonebox. The stands will open up on major high streets in London first, bringing super fast Wi-Fi and taking up less space
The phonebox is dead. Long live the phonebox. The stands will open up on major high streets in London first, bringing super fast Wi-Fi and taking up less space

BT has announced that it will be replacing its famous and much-revered red boxes with new kiosks. Those kiosks won’t allow people to hide in them, but will otherwise offer the modern version of phonebox technology – super fast Wi-Fi, free calls and chargers for phones, instead of traditional handsets.

The new kiosks will start opening up on major high streets in London from next year. They’ll eventually roll out to the rest of the country – though there’ll be fewer of them than there are traditional phone boxes.

Still, hundreds of the existing phone boxes will be ripped up and replaced by the new kiosks, which BT refers to as links. There’ll be “at least 750” across central London and other cities, and they will be able to take up far less space than traditional phone boxes.

Users near the Links will be able to connect to free ultrafast Wi—Fi. They’ll also be able to benefit from free calls to landlines and mobiles, mobile phone charging through two USB ports and a touchscren tablet that will let people find maps or local services.

The Links will also have sensors built into them. Those will capture data like air and noise pollution or traffic conditions, and will be able to feed that back into the internet and use it for other services.

The new Links will be paid for with money from advertising that will go on the Links.

Rajesh Agrawal, London's deputy mayor for business, said: "I welcome this exciting new addition to London's streets.

"Expanding London's digital infrastructure is a priority for the Mayor, and LinkUK can play a big part in improving connectivity for Londoners and visitors to our city, while reducing street clutter by upgrading and reducing the number of phone boxes.

"London is already widely regarded as one of the technological capitals of the world but the Mayor is determined to improve connectivity across the city to ensure we maintain that position.”

BT chief executive for wholesale and ventures Gerry McQuade said: "We're evolving the phone box to make it relevant in the 21st century by offering people ultrafast Wi-Fi and a range of digital and information services entirely for free.

"London is one of the greatest cities in the world and it's entirely fitting that it becomes the first UK city to benefit from the Links. But we will be rolling out many more Links to the other great cities across the UK over the coming months as we look to transform the look and functionality of our public payphones."

Independent News Service

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