London to Get Wi-Fi Phone Boxes

BT said that it will roll out in the UK new Link kiosks to provide services including UK landline, and mobile phone calls, mobile device charging and access to maps, directions and local services.

These services will come at no cost to users or taxpayers as they will be funded by revenues from advertising on the Links’ digital displays. LinkUK is a partnership between BT, “urban innovation company” Intersection – which is behind LinkNYC in New York – and leading UK outdoor advertising company Primesight. BT intends to allocate 5% of the advertising airtime to non-commercial good causes to benefit local communities working with councils.

Each Link will give users free services including up to 1Gbps Wi-Fi, two USB charging ports, a touchscreen tablet for accessing maps, directions and local services and free UK landline and mobile phone calls. Links will also have two 55” (139.7cm) high-definition digital displays, able to display public service announcements, as well as neighbourhood advertising for global and local businesses

The new Links will also feature sensors, which can capture real-time data relating to the local environment – including for example air and noise pollution, outdoor temperature and traffic conditions. Up to 100 Links are expected to be installed in the London Borough of Camden – with the first ones due to appear in 2017. At least 750 Links will be installed across central London and in major cities across the UK over the next few years.

Analyst Comment

The Link devices will be the same as those installed under the LinkNYC scheme. It will be interesting to see if the London installations suffer the same problems as in New York, where there are reports that Wi-Fi has been disabled because of the use of the connections by some purposes that were unintended, including monopolising the use of the Wi-Fi and also with reports of a homeless man being seen to ‘pleasure himself’ while connected! (BR)