BT has announced plans to roll out new kiosks offering free Wi-Fi and calls in London.
The telecoms giant has partnered with Intersection and outdoor advertising company PrimeSight to develop what it bills as “the next evolution” of its public payphone business.
Supported by advertising, the “sleek, ultramodern kiosks” – dubbed ‘Links’ – will be able to offer free ultrafast Wi-Fi, with speeds of up to 1Gbps, to “hundreds” of simultaneous users.
Other services available will include UK landline and mobile phone calls, mobile device charging and access to maps, directions and local services.
All of the services will be provided no cost to users or taxpayers.
The Links will also feature sensors capable of capture real-time data relating to the local environment, including for example, air and noise pollution, outdoor temperature and traffic conditions.
BT says this feature could potentially allow councils and communities to develop localised smart services.
Up to 100 Links are planned to be installed in the London Borough of Camden, the first due to appear in 2017, with a further 650 planned for the capital. BT says the roll-out will be extended to other major cities over the next few years.
Gerry McQuade, CEO of BT Wholesale and Ventures, 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.”