31 October 2016
Londoners are set to benefit from free ultrafast wi-fi, free phone calls and a range of other free digital services from next year.
It’s all thanks to a new partnership between BT, urban innovation company Intersection, and UK outdoor advertising firm Primesite.
A new service, called LinkUK from BT, will see sleek, ultra-modern kiosks called Links rolled out to major high streets across the capital.
Hundreds of users within range of a Link will be able to access free ultrafast wi-fi - with speeds of up to 1Gbps - on the move. LinkUK will offer the fastest free public wi-fi service available.
Other free services available from the Links will include UK landline and mobile phone calls, mobile device charging and access to maps, directions and local services.
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. This could potentially introduce an exciting new range of smart services to local councils and communities based on the Internet of Things.
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.
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.”
The roll-out also marks the next evolution of BT’s public payphone service as hundreds of BT’s existing phone boxes across the capital will be replaced by the new Links.
As well as providing a far greater range of services to the public for free, the Links will bring digital innovation to the streets of London.
Gerry McQuade, chief executive, BT Wholesale and Ventures, 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.”
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.
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 inch (139.7cm) high-definition digital displays, able to display public service announcements, as well as neighbourhood advertising for global and local businesses enabling them to reach customers at the right place and right time.
For more information about LinkUK visit: www.linkuk.uk