Like police boxes and post boxes, phone boxes are a British high street staple – a monument to a past era in a more modern, connected world. Last year, the BBC reported that there were 47,000 phone boxes still standing across the UK, but that the past decade had seen a 90% decline in use – though it’s complicated to remove them, and many are kept to cover areas without mobile signal and where accidents are common, as well as for the elderly and children to use.
Now, abandoned boxes are being replaced with InLinks, boxes that serve as Wi-Fi hotspots and charging stations, offering free calls, giving access to maps and displaying local information (as well as adverts). At least 750 will be installed across the UK in the next few years, and a few boxes were trialled in New York last year – thought it’s interesting to note that though these versions had a web browser included, their UK counterparts won’t, as it was reported that the US kiosks were used to watch questionable online content.
Traditional phone boxes are something of a British relic, and many disused boxes have been repurposed as micro coffee shops, greenhouses and even emergency defibrillation units. There’s even a company that restores aged booths and ships them out to become garden accessories for the rich and famous. Whether the new InLinks will have the same effect on the public consciousness remains to be seen, though their usefulness can’t be argued.
Image credit: IdeasAlchemist