BT 'Evolves' London Phone Boxes into Ad-supported Wi-fi Kiosks

Alex Spencer

BT wi-fi boothBT has unveiled plans to replace hundreds of its phone boxes in London with 'LinkUK' wi-fi kiosks, through a partnership with tech firm Intersection.

The Links, which were first introduced in New York this January, will start rolling out in 2017, with 750 kiosks expected 'over the next few years'.

The kiosks will offer free wi-fi access for 'hundreds' of users at a time, up to a speed of 1Gbps. They also have two built-in USB charging ports, and a built-in tablet which will enable passers-by to make free phone calls within the UK, and access maps, directions and other local services.

All of these services will be funded by ads displayed on the Link's two 55” digital displays, sold by outdoor ad company Primesight.

The kiosks also feature sensors to capture real-time data air and noise pollution, outdoor temperature and traffic conditions. It's currently not clear what data will be collected on pedestrians who use the Link's service, or if any of it will be sold on to third parties to help fund the services.

“We’re evolving the phone box to make it relevant in the 21st century by offering people ultra-fast wi-fi and a range of digital and information services entirely for free,” said Gerry McQuade, CEO, BT Wholesale and Ventures. “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.”