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BT 'evolving the phone box' to offer free ultrafast public wi-fi

Tuesday, October 25th 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

BT will start rolling out free ultrafast public wi-fi and a range of other digital services across London next year.

Hundreds of new kiosks, known as Links, will be popping up all over the capital in 2017 as part of a new project called LinkUK from BT.

Each Link will give nearby users access to 1Gbps wi-fi, free phone calls, mobile device charging and access to maps, directions and local services.

The kiosks also feature digital displays, with advertising revenue covering the cost of providing the free services.

LinkUK from BT is a partnership between BT and Intersection, an “urban experience” company that has already installed similar 'LinkNYC' kiosks around New York City.

The project will see hundreds of existing phone boxes replaced by the new Links. BT will work with councils and communities to determine the best location for each Link.

Rajesh Agrawal, London’s deputy mayor for business, said: “I welcome this exciting new addition to London’s streets.

“Expanding London’s digital infrastructure is a priority for the Mayor, and LinkUK can play a big part in improving connectivity for Londoners and visitors to our city, while reducing street clutter by upgrading and reducing the number of phone boxes.

“London is already widely regarded as one of the technological capitals of the world but the Mayor is determined to improve connectivity across the city to ensure we maintain that position.”

'One of the greatest cities in the world'

At least 750 Links will be installed across central London with around 100 in the borough of Camden. The kiosks will eventually be rolled out to other UK cities.

Gerry McQuade, chief executive of BT’s wholesale and ventures division, 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.”

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