BT's LinkUK outlines free gigabit Wi-Fi point plans
October 26, 2016 // 10:09 a.m.
BT has announced that it is turning old public telephone points in the UK into gigabit wireless access points, in partnership with New York-based LinkNYC.
LinkNYC has previously installed its gigabit-speed wireless access points in public areas around New York City with considerable success, and is now bringing its service to the UK in partnership with BT. Dubbed, unsurprisingly, LinkUK, the joint venture is to begin by converting old public telephones in London into the high-speed access points, which offer free gigabit wireless connectivity along with UK landline and mobile calls, maps, directions, local services, and two USB ports offering charging for mobile devices.
'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,' crowed Gerry McQuade, chief executive of BT's wholesale and ventures arm. '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.'
The service will be provided free of charge at the point of use, though BT is naturally still looking to generate revenue: each Link includes two 55in high-definition display panels, one on each side of the pod, which display advertising provided via Primesight. Five percent of this advertising, BT has claimed, will be earmarked for non-commercial good causes and other notifications which benefit local communities and councils.
LinkUK's plan will see 'up to' 100 Link units installed in Camden starting in early 2017, with a view to installing 750 units across the UK over the next few years.