Follow BT News

Free ultrafast Wi-Fi, mobile charging, calls and local information kiosks coming to Southwark

Press release   •   Mar 13, 2017 12:16 GMT

Residents, visitors and businesses in Southwark are set to benefit from the fastest free public Wi-Fi available, free phone calls and a range of other free digital services on the street, thanks to a new partnership between BT, Intersection, the urban innovation company behind LinkNYC, and Primesight, a leading UK outdoor advertising company.

Southwark is a core borough for London’s business community and home to a number of the UK’s most iconic and popular tourist and cultural attractions, including The Shard and Tate Modern. It will join Camden as one of the first areas where the new service, called LinkUK from BT, will be rolled out in the capital. More than 100 LinkUK from BT kiosks are expected to be installed in the London Borough of Southwark, with the first ones due to appear in 2017.

The ultramodern kiosks, called Links, will be installed on high streets across the borough. 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 will include UK landline and mobile phone calls, rapid mobile device charging, online maps, directions and local information.

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.

Councillor Peter John, OBE, leader of Southwark Council, said: “Southwark is one of the key business and cultural hubs in London and home to some of Britain’s most loved tourist attractions. The increased connectivity and access to local services Links will bring to Southwark will undoubtedly benefit residents, visitors and businesses alike and supports our ambition to become a digital council.”

The rollout will demonstrate the evolution of BT’s public payphones service, providing a far greater range of services to the public than existing payphones and for free. They will also take up less space and will be installed in smaller numbers than the payphones they replace.

Nick Hale, MD Ventures, BT Wholesale and Ventures, said: “This is the phone box of the future. We’re evolving the phone box to make it relevant to people in the 21st century by offering them ultrafast Wi-Fi, free phone calls, rapid mobile charging, a range of digital and information services and all for free.

“Southwark is at the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world and it’s entirely fitting that it will become one of the first boroughs in the UK to benefit from the new Links as we look to transform the look of our payphones and the services they offer the public.”

Matt Bird, general manager of LinkUK, said: “The rollout of LinkUK from BT across Southwark supports the borough’s commitment to embracing change and re-imagining the implementation of digital infrastructure. In New York City, more than one million people have now connected to the fastest free Wi-Fi available via LinkNYC, and we look forward to bringing this popular service to those who live in, work in, or visit Southwark.”

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 2016 as part of LinkNYC. With more than 600 Links now operating across New York City, LinkNYC recently reached the milestone of more than one million registered users connected to its ultrafast Wi-Fi service.

As well as the free 1Gbps Wi-Fi, phone calls, rapid mobile charging and local information services, the new Links will also feature sensors which can capture real-time data relating to the local environment. This could include, for example, air and noise pollution, outdoor temperature and traffic conditions, potentially introducing an exciting new range of smart services to local councils and communities based on the Internet of Things.

Links will 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 are working with councils and local communities, such as Southwark, to determine the best location for each Link.

For more information about LinkUK

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.

About LinkUK from BT

LinkUK from BT is bringing digital innovation, free gigabit Wi-Fi, and premium services to the streets of London and cities across the United Kingdom. The result of a joint venture between Primesight, a leading UK out of home company, and Intersection, the company behind LinkNYC, and a partnership with BT, LinkUK will deliver the fastest free public Wi-Fi available in the UK. Launching in London this year, each Link will provide free, ultrafast Wi-Fi, 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 or taxpayers as they will be funded by revenues from advertising on Links’ digital displays. At least 750 Links will be installed over the next few years.

To learn more, visit:

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 45,500 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 4,000 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.


For images, seeThe BT Media Image library andTelefocus - historical images from BT Archives.

About Primesight

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.

For more information about Primesight please visit:

About Intersection

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

About BT

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 20161, BT Group’s reported revenue was £19,012m with reported profit before taxation of £2,907m.

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.

1The results for the period have been revised to reflect the outcome of the investigation into our Italian business. Detail of which is set out in our third quarter results announcement published on 27 January 2017. This financial information is unaudited.

For more information, visit