Applications submitted for first of next-generation phone kiosks

Planning applications to install the first tranche of the ultramodern kiosks that BT intends to use to replace traditional phone boxes on the high street have been submitted to a central London borough.

Links: visualisation of BT's new ultramodern phone kiosk
Links: visualisation of BT's new ultramodern phone kiosk

In October, BT announced a new service, LinkUK, which is intended to see the kiosks, called Links, rolled out to high streets across central London.

The project is a partnership between BT, Google-backed urban innovation company Intersection and outdoor advertising firm Primesight. The kiosks were first installed in January this year in New York as part of sister project LinkNYC.

Molly Fowler, senior urban strategist at Intersection, said that the Links would initially be deployed in central London boroughs, with the first deployment of 500 units scheduled to take place "as early as the middle to the end of next year". She added: "We will consider going beyond that further down the road."

Fowler told Planning that the first 28 planning applications for the new units had been submitted to the London Borough of Camden last Friday. The applications are largely around Camden High Street, Camden Market and Chalk Farm.

Fowler said that the kiosks would offer super-fast free wifi to users within their range, as well as free landline and mobile phone calls, accessed via a tablet screen.

She said that services would be paid for through advertising on 55" screens either side of the kiosks.

Fowler said that the units had been "ruggedised" and were resistant to tampering and vandalism.

"We’ve heated it up, we’ve hit it with baseball bats," she said. Fowler added that the units would have a smaller footprint than traditional phone boxes, helping to reduce street clutter.

Terry Dyer, development director at Primesight, said that the partnership team has sought to engage planning departments in "pre-pre-application meetings" to discuss how they could handle the number of applications that are likely to be submitted.

He said that a traffic light system had been used to assess whether locations would be appropriate for the Links, with key planning constraints being a location’s proximity to conservation areas, listed buildings and residential property.

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