Next Gen BT Phone Boxes Bring 1Gbps Wi-Fi & Free Calls To Leeds

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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BT Links will deliver a range of free services and power future smart city services

The first next generation phone box has been installed outside London, giving people in Leeds the ability to access free 1Gbps Wi-Fi and phone calls, while allowing local authorities to develop smart city applications.

The kiosks, called ‘Links’, first arrived in the capital back in June and will replace payphones on major roads in the capital and across the country over the course of the next year.

They also offer mobile charging, local services and maps, as well as sensors that could monitor air and noise pollution, temperature, traffic and other urban metrics.

BT InLink

Link phone box

LinkUK is a partnership between BT, urban innovation firm Intersection and outdoor advertising agency PrimeSight and is modelled on a similar project called LinkNYC in New York City.

“Leeds marks a very exciting stage in our national InLink roll out, and is the second UK city to benefit from the free services InLinks offer,” said Matt Bird, general manager, InLinkUK.

“When we launched InLinkUK we said that we wanted to bridge the digital divide and create smarter communities. By bringing InLinks to another major city outside of the capital, we are now starting a new phase in our journey and look forward to the service rolling out to other areas in the coming months.”

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The classic ‘K6’ red phone box  celebrated its 80th birthday last year. It was provided to every town or village in the land, providing they had a post office. Indeed, 8,000 K6 were installed in 1936 alone, and by the end of production in 1968 there were nearly 70,000 in this country.

There are currently 46,000 public phone boxes in the UK, of which 8,000 are classic red. In London there are 6,783 phone boxes and 602 red ones. In recent years, BT has encouraged local residents to “adopt” their unused phone box for £1 with many turned into art galleries, libraries and information centres.

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