BT has partnered with Intersection, the urban innovation company behind LinkNYC, and Primesight, a leading UK outdoor advertising company to provide Londoners with free public Wi-Fi service, free phone calls and a range of other free digital services from next year.
A new service, called LinkUK from BT, will see sleek, ultramodern 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 on the move, with speeds of up to 1Gbps.
Other free premium services available from the Links will include UK landline and mobile phone calls, mobile device charging and access to maps, directions and local services. These services will come at no cost to users as they will be funded by revenues from advertising on the Links’ digital displays.
The rollout 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, while helping to reduce the amount of clutter on the street. This is because they take up less space on the pavement and will be installed in smaller numbers than the existing payphones they replace.
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.
According to BT, 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. London is second only to New York in welcoming Links to its streets, which were first installed in January this year as part of LinkNYC.
As part of the agreement with BT, Primesight will also sell advertising on nearly 17,500 BT payphone kiosks across the UK.
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” (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.