BT has announced it will provide Londoners with free Wi-Fi, phone calls and charging at a range of hotspots as part of a new service called LinkUK.
The hotspots will take the form of kiosks, that are essentially modernised phone boxes, capable of providing Wi-Fi to those within range that can reach speeds of up to 1GB/s.
Gerry McQuade, CEO, 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.”
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The Kiosks, known as Links, will provide the services free of charge thanks to being funded by the profits made from advertising on screens on the side of the kiosks themselves.
As well as the free Wi-Fi and charging, the Links come with touchscreen tablets that can provide access to maps, directions and local services.
BT says it plans to replace hundreds of its existing phone boxes across the capital with the new Links, which take up less space on the pavement and will be installed in smaller numbers than the existing payphones they replace.
On top of the free services, the kiosks will also feature sensors, which can capture real-time data from the local environment, including air and noise pollution, outdoor temperature and traffic conditions.
Up to 100 Links are expected to be installed in Camden starting next year, with at least 750 Links set to be installed across central London and in major cities across the UK over the next few years.
In the US, New York has already seen the Links rolled out, but the kiosks have proven somewhat controversial. As The Evening Standard reports, LinkNYC had to shut off unlimited browsing as the kiosks were attracting some undesirable visitors.
The New York Times explained in a report, that the kiosks “attracted people who linger for hours, sometimes drinking and doing drugs and, at times, boldly watching pornography on the sidewalks”.
Let’s hope none of that happens when the Links are introduced on the streets of old Blighty then.
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