BT ditches Web kiosk rollout

Poor take-up has forced BT to abandon plans to install multimedia phone boxes across the UK

BT has halted the rollout of thousands of Internet kiosks after overestimating how much public demand there would be for the service.

At present there are around 1,300 Web kiosks installed around the UK at shopping centres, rail stations and airports. They allow users to surf the Web and send emails and text messages, as well as make phone calls.

In late 2001, BT said that 28,000 kiosks would be built, in partnership with Marconi, but the telco confirmed over the weekend that that no more would be installed.

"BT had planned a large scale rollout of public multimedia kiosks, with our supplier, which has been reduced due to performance. It is no surprise that this is a similar experience to other operators around the world," said the company in a statement, adding that it didn't plan to rip out any of the existing high-tech kiosks.

A BT spokesman added on Monday that if the existing 1,300 units don't attract much business in their present location they could be moved to other sites.

When BT announced its plans in 2001, it estimated that the deal would earn Marconi £100m in revenues over eight years. Today's news comes after a very difficult few years for Marconi. In 2005 it failed to win a lucrative contract to help build BT's 21st Century Network, and in October last year many of its assets were bought by Ericsson.