LinkUK from BT, supported by digital advertising, will roll out across the capital next year
Rollout marks the next evolution of BT’s public payphones and brings digital innovation to the streets of London.
Londoners will benefit from the fastest free public Wi-Fi available, free phone calls and a range of other free digital services from next year, thanks to a new partnership between BT, Intersection, the urban innovation company behind LinkNYC, and Primesight, a leading UK outdoor advertising company.
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 - the fastest free public Wi-Fi service available. Other free premium services available from the Links will include UK landlineand mobile phone calls, mobile device charging and access to maps, directions and local services. 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. I look forward to working with BT, Intersection and Primesight to see how we can roll LinkUK across the capital, and to explore its future potential.
“London is already widely regarded as one of the technological capitals of the world but the Mayor is determined to improve connectivity across the city to ensure we maintain that position.”
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.
Gerry McQuade, CEO, 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. 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 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.
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.
Councillor Theo Blackwell, Camden Cabinet member for Finance, Technology & Growth, said:
“Camden council wants to improve digital connectivity and be at the forefront of change.
“The plans for Link kiosks submitted by LinkUK from BT represent a really exciting step forward. They are proven and popular on the streets of New York City. If approved, will mean that Camden is the first council in the UK to host these innovative services. It will be a further step as Camden council seeks to improve digital access and better serve residents, businesses and visitors alike.”
Dan Doctoroff, Chairman & CEO at Intersection, said: “As a global hub for media and technology, London is the ideal city for Intersection to invest in the expansion of connectivity, digital innovation and our business. LinkUK from BT will bring tremendous benefits to Londoners, visitors, local businesses, and international brands and we look forward to working with our partners, BT and Primesight, to transform this great city's streetscape."
As part of the agreement with BT, Primesight will also sell advertising on nearly 17,500 BT payphone kiosks across the UK.
Naren Patel, CEO of Primesight, said: "Link UK from BT represents an incredible opportunity for advertisers to access a unique and world leading digital Out of Home platform across the UK as we work with BT revolutionising their payphones to meet the demands and opportunities of the 21st century. Our partners at Intersection have designed an incredible product that will offer free UK calls, the fastest public Wi-Fi, a mobile charging station as well as tablet which will provide a host of useful information. The Link unit will help transform the streets and lives of the people in 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.
BT and the LinkUK partners will work with councils and local communities to determine the best location for each Link.
For more information about LinkUK visit:www.linkuk.uk
All BT news releases can be accessed atthe BT Newsroom web site.
Notes to editors
Individual download speeds are dependent on a number of factors including: the capability of a user’s mobile device, distance from the Link, environmental conditions and the number of users connected at a given time.
BT’s Wi-Fi Network in the UK:
BT already operates the biggest network in the UK, giving customers unlimited access to the most extensive Wi-Fi coverage with more than five million hotspots.
History of telephone kiosks in the UK:
There are currently 46,000 public phones boxes on the streets of the UK, of which around 8,000 are traditional red phone boxes. Their architectural significance has seen 2,400 phone boxes designated as grade II listed buildings. In the London area (within the M25) there are 6,783 public payphones, of which 602 are red phone boxes.
Since 2008, BT has been encouraging towns and villages where the local phone box is not being used, to preserve their own part of Britain’s heritage by buying the kiosk from the company for just a £1 under the Adopt a Kiosk scheme.
More than 3,500 kiosks have been adopted and transformed into a huge variety of new uses. Many have been fitted with life-saving defibrillation machines, others have been turned into art galleries, mini libraries, exhibitions and information centres. One village turned theirs into a one-night-only pub, when their local closed down. Fans of the BBC Radio 4’s long-running drama The Archers will know that even the villagers of Ambridge adopted their phone box for use as a mini-information kiosk.
For information about the history of telephone kiosks in the UK, see BT Archives information sheet and timeline.
Primesight Ltd is an established and leading Out of Home Media operator in the UK, managing over 20,000 advertising sites. Primesight have a mission to ‘Make an Impression’ operating the broadest reaching OOH advertising portfolio in the UK encompassing Roadside, Transport and Cinema environments including the development of the ‘Network’ digital billboard locations in cities throughout the country. Our estate partners include Network Rail, TFL, Manchester Airport Group, Gatwick Airport, Luton Airport, DCM, The Co-operative Group and Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive. Primesight Ltd were awarded a 3-star status in the 2016 Best Companies awards, and are current holders of Campaign Outdoor Sales Team of the Year in 2015/16 and Media Week Media Brand of the Year 2016. Primesight is owned by GMT Communications Partners.
For more information about Primesight please visit: www.primesight.co.uk
Intersection is an urban innovation company that integrates data, connectivity, and media in public spaces to drive revenues, efficiencies and better customer experiences for cities, citizens and brands. The company creates ideas, products, and platforms at the convergence of digital and physical for transit agencies, retailers, advertisers, airports, and mixed-use real estate developments. Intersection is leading the consortium behind LinkNYC, the largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi network in the world. The company is owned by a group of investors led by Sidewalk Labs, an Alphabet company. Learn more at www.intersection.com.
BT’s purpose is to use the power of communications to make a better world. It is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband, TV and internet products and services; and converged fixed-mobile products and services.BT consists of six customer-facing lines of business: Consumer, EE, Business and Public Sector, Global Services, Wholesale and Ventures, and Openreach.
For the year ended 31 March 2016, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,042m with reported profit before taxation of £3,029m.
British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York.
For more information, visit www.btplc.com