BT is to rollout 100 revamped phone boxes, now called Links kiosks throughout the London borouh of Southwark, with the first ones expected to appear this year.
The kiosks were built and designed by BT in collaboration with Intersection who drove the similar New York scheme and Primesight – a UK outdoor advertising company. The scheme uses the revenue from advertising on the kiosks to provide free Wi-Fi, calls, device charging, directions and local information to users.
London is to be the second city in the world to use the Links kiosks, with 750 links to be installed across central London and also in other UK cities. Last October the London borough of Camden was the first area to announce that it would be rolling out the booths.
The revamped phone boxes are smaller than their iconic red predecessors and will also be installed in lesser numbers than the payphone sites they will be replacing.
The sites will boast up to 1Gbps Wi-Fi speeds, much faster than most phones can deliver over a 4G connection. In New York where the scheme has been up and running for two years, over one million people have connected to the free Wi-Fi.
BT wholesale and ventures MD Nick Hale said, ‘This is the phone box of the future. We’re evolving the phone box to make it relevant to people in the 21st century by offering them ultrafast Wi-Fi, free phone calls, rapid mobile charging, a range of digital and information services and all for free.
‘Southwark is at the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world and it’s entirely fitting that it will become one of the first boroughs in the UK to benefit from the new Links as we look to transform the look of our payphones and the services they offer the public.’
Southwark Concil leader Peter John agreed stating, ‘The increased connectivity and access to local services Links will bring to Southwark will undoubtedly benefit residents, visitors and businesses alike and supports our ambition to become a digital council.’
As well as service to residents, the Links also have the capability to provide a service to the council as well, with compatible IOT solutions placed within the kiosks able to track pollution, temperature and traffic conditions.