The humble phonebox is about to get a facelift, with BT making plans to turn it into a multimedia kiosk.
The 600 Multi.phones will be available from Wednesday in shopping centres, rail stations and airports across the UK. In order to combat the digital divide access will be free for the first five months.
The kiosk will look similar to the familiar BT public payphone, but has a 12in colour touch sensitive screen in the centre. To help first time surfers the booths will highlight travel and consumer information and have "hot buttons" to entertainment, shopping and sports sites.
Director of BT Payphones Malcolm Newing claims the boxes "reinvent the phone box" for the 21st century. "Many people are still excluded from using the Web because they don't have access to a PC. We're giving everyone the chance to explore and enjoy the Internet first hand and free of charge."
The Department of Education and Employment, which is leading projects to combat the digital divide welcomes the initiative. "Anything which increases Internet access particularly for the socially excluded is a good thing," says a DfEE spokeswoman.
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