Soon, Londoners will be able to access free WiFi, making The Old Smoke the second city (following New York earlier this year) to transform its old, abandoned payphones into high-speed Internet hotspots.
The service, dubbed LinkUK, is the result of a partnership between communications services company, BT, municipal media company, Intersection (also the force behind LinkNYC), and outdoor advertising company, Primesight.
Sleek, modern kiosks (called Links) will offer free premium services to hundreds of Londoners within range including: free Internet with speeds of up to 1 Gbps, landline and mobile phone calling, mobile device charging (via two USB charging ports), and access to maps, directions, and local services. Equipped with various sensors, they will also capture real-time environmental data such as air and noise pollution, temperature, and local traffic conditions.
Each Link will also integrate two 55-inch, high-definition digital screens, which will display local advertising and public service announcements. Revenue generated by the advertising will fund the service, coming at no additional cost to taxpayers.
Fortunately (as Link learned during its first go-around in The Big Apple), the kiosks will not include a web-browser, as there were reports that people were using the service to access, ahem, lewd videos.
In addition to upping the technological ante of the city, the Links will reduce the amount of clutter in the streets, as they take up less space than the existing payphones they will be replacing. Up to 100 of these kiosks will be installed in the London Borough of Camden beginning in 2017, while at least 750 Links will be installed across central London and in other major UK cities over the next few years.
“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,” Rajesh Agrawal, London’s Deputy Mayor for Business, said in a statement.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)