Internet 'street hubs' set to replace redundant city phone boxes

Redundant phone boxes in Wakefield could be replaced by ultra-modern internet hubs.

By Nick Frame
Monday, 20th June 2022, 7:05 am
An impression of how the hub will look on the corner of Stanley Road. (pic from BT)
An impression of how the hub will look on the corner of Stanley Road. (pic from BT)

A series of planning applications have been submitted to Wakefield Council by telecom giants BT to install a number of the freestanding screens around the city.

They will replace phone boxes which have become virtually redundant in recent years by the use of mobile phones.

BT say the 75-inch-screen hubs will provide "cutting-edge" technology, providing superfast broadband internet up to 1gb, a dedicated 999 button, council services via a HD touch screen and maps to find local landmarks.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

All users can also access free national landline and mobile phone calls and two USB ports for recharging devices up to 20 time faster than standard.

Powered by carbon-free energy, all of the services will be free and users need only provide an email address the first time they use a hub.

Advertising will help cover the cost of the hubs.

BT said: "We’re evolving the payphone estate with a move to street hubs, a sleek, modern answer to the demands of a digitally connected, converged-media society.

"We’re making streets smarter, with ultrafast Wi-Fi, public messaging and better mobile connectivity.

"We’re making them safer, with ready access to public and emergency services. And we’re making them more sustainable, with sensors allowing for ‘smart city’ planning and reduced street clutter.

"Street hubs connect their communities to the fastest and most robust free public Wi-Fi service in the UK.

"The street hub has added benefits of free Wi-Fi connectivity and other valuable services to tourists and recreational users, thereby encouraging greater use of the city’s streetscapes as part of the wider digital connectivity expected in modern cities."

The applications seek to place the hubs outside St Michael's Church on Westgate, at the junction with Stanley Road and Upper Warrengate, outside The Ridings on Kirkgate, and outside Unity House on Westgate.

The hubs have a screen on each side.

A decision will be made by city planners at a later date.