Having fallen out of favour with the proliferation of mobile phones, settling on what to with old, disused or abandoned phone boxes on streets across the country has proved something of a conundrum. In the UK however, BT are providing one option.
Old or abandoned BT phone boxes on high streets across the UK are to be replaced by new digital hubs that will provide free Wi-Fi as well as other services.
It’s hoped the new digital units called ‘InLinks’ will rejuvenate the streets of London.
The first of these new units – which will replace some of BT’s existing payphones in London – appeared on Camden High Street in June.
The kiosks are the result of a new partnership between BT; Intersection, the company behind LinkNYC; and Primesight, a leading UK outdoor advertising company.
The InLinkUK from BT service will be rolled out to other high streets in London and major cities throughout the UK this year.
It will provide free internet access, free calls and useful location-specific information to users within range of the next-generation phone boxes.
BT said that all InLink services are free of charge to users and taxpayers as the project is funded by advertising revenue generated by the InLinks’ digital displays.
“This is the phone box of the future,” said Gerry McQuade, CEO of BT wholesale and ventures.
“InLinkUK from BT brings the payphone up to date, and gives people the services they need and use every day in the 21st century – and the bonus is, it’s all for free.
“But, as well as the free services – ultra-fast Wi-Fi, phone calls, rapid mobile charging and local information – councils and community organisations will be able to use the screens to provide up-to-the-minute news and information to local residents.
“And, just as the phone box has evolved, the new InLinks could evolve to use the internet of things, with connected sensors to monitor and help us understand and improve our environment,” McQuade said.
Matt Bird, General Manager of InLinkUK, added that the units will introduce the technology that is needed to create “a better urban environment”.
Indeed, he said that in the future, they will feature sensors to capture real-time environmental data, such as traffic conditions and pollution, which has “never been seen before in the UK at such a micro level”.
Following the activation of the first InLinks on Camden High Street, BT has noted that the units take up less space on the street than traditional payphones, while they will be installed in smaller numbers than the payphones they are replacing.
As a result, space on pavements in busy urban areas should be freed up.