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Southwark to get free ultrafast public wi-fi via BT's new phone kiosks

Tuesday, March 14th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Southwark will be one of the first London boroughs to benefit from what BT is calling “the phone box of the future”.

A number of new kiosks offering free ultrafast wi-fi, phone calls, mobile charging points and local information will be installed by the telecoms giant.

The kiosks, called Links, are the evolution of the traditional payphone and will come with a far greater range of services, and for free.

BT will be rolling out hundreds of Links across central London and other major UK cities in the coming years as part of a project called LinkUK from BT.

The project is a partnership between BT, outdoor advertising company Primesight and Intersection, which has already installed more than 600 kiosks in New York City as part of the LinkNYC programme.

Southwark joins Camden in becoming one of the first areas of the UK to benefit from the new service.

Each borough is expected to get around 100 Links, with the first due to appear in 2017.

Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, said: “Southwark is one of the key business and cultural hubs in London and home to some of Britain’s most loved tourist attractions.

“The increased connectivity and access to local services Links will bring to Southwark will undoubtedly benefit residents, visitors and businesses alike and supports our ambition to become a digital council.”

'Relevant in the 21st century'

Nick Hale, managing director of ventures at BT Wholesale and Ventures, said: “This is the phone box of the future.

“We’re evolving the phone box to make it relevant to people in the 21st century by offering them ultrafast wi-fi, free phone calls, rapid mobile charging, a range of digital and information services and all for free.

“Southwark is at the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world and it’s entirely fitting that it will become one of the first boroughs in the UK to benefit from the new Links as we look to transform the look of our payphones and the services they offer the public.”

Matt Bird, general manager of LinkUK, said: “The rollout of LinkUK from BT across Southwark supports the borough’s commitment to embracing change and re-imagining the implementation of digital infrastructure.

“In New York City, more than one million people have now connected to the fastest free wi-fi available via LinkNYC, and we look forward to bringing this popular service to those who live in, work in, or visit Southwark.”

As well as free public services such as 1Gbps wi-fi, the Links will feature sensors to capture real-time data such as air or noise pollution, outdoor temperature or traffic conditions.

BT and its LinkUK partners are working with councils to determine the best location for each Link.

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