In a very unique marketing gesture and implementation of the micro-datacenter concept, telecommunications provider aql, of Leeds, UK is repurposing 1930’s era telephone boxes as WiFi hotspots containing a micro-datacenter.
The antique phone boxes, which will be painted blue, rather than their traditional red, will be sealed to the public but will host a local hotspot and have a touchscreen that will allow users to make phone calls, including calls to the police emergency number. The boxes will be solar powered and wirelessly connected so that they can be installed anywhere without the need to dig up the streets to provide power and connectivity.
The boxes will be deployed in the South Leeds area, and will have a feature where users can come up to the box and record a video blog leaving their impressions of the area as a historical reference for future users. The boxes will also be used to fill in the gaps in the government provided WiFi coverage being rolled out by the local council.
Aql is well aware of the resemblance to the iconic time travel craft of Doctor Who, referring to the boxes as LEODIS (Leodis is also the ancient name for the City of Leeds). The goal is to make the boxes and their recorded content available as an online site that provides historical and tourist information about Leeds. They hope the repurposed phone boxes become icons themselves, letting know that there is free WiFi in the area being provided by aql.