Link’s public Wi-Fi access points are coming to London, marking the hubs’ first expansion outside of New York. The ones in New York include facilities like USB device charging ports, touchscreen web browsing, and two 55-inch advertising displays. The LinkUK “Links” kiosks will be coming to the British capital in 2017 in a partnership with telecoms company BT, Intersection and Primesight.
BT has partnered with Intersection and Primesight to launch LinkUK, following the launch of LinkNYC in New York in January. BT’s existing phone boxes across the capital will be replaced by the new Links.
The ones in London will be born out of places scattered around the city that previously held abandoned phoneboxes, which will now be turned into “sleek, ultramodern kiosks” called Links , thus making their transformation into free Wi-Fi hotspots offering free calls and digital services. According to BT, they will also have more services for use by the citizens,
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.
Two USB charging ports for your devices, a touchscreen tablet for pulling up maps, and free calls to UK landlines and mobile phones are further specifics of the services that will be offered.
When they first launched in New York City in February, Link’s booths also included touchscreen tablets that allowed users to browse the internet for free, but the company had no choice but to disable the feature after it was reported that people were camping in front of the booths to access pornography. At the time, Link said,
The kiosks were never intended for anyone’s extended, personal use.
It stated that it wanted to “ensure that Links are accessible and a welcome addition to New York City neighborhoods.”
The New York hubs were also criticized for their variance in internet speeds, with booths in Manhattan reportedly offering Wi-Fi connections that were significantly faster than those found in the Bronx or Brooklyn, and for using Bluetooth beacons to track people walking past to serve them ads. When complaints about these issues flowed in, however, Link reacted promptly, removing them from the final units.
The British booths also plan to feature two ad billboards on the side, but it’s not yet clear whether they’ll also be able to track passersby. The booths will be subsidized by advertising revenue on their digital displays, with 5 percent of ad-time dedicated to “causes to benefit local communities.” Up to 100 kiosks will be installed in the London borough of Camden, with the first units set to appear in 2017. After this initial roll-out, BT expects to bring up to 750 kiosks to London and other UK.