Starting today, free internet and e-mail access is available to customers of British Telecom’s terminals in a five-month pilot scheme which sees ordinary phoneboxes transmogrified into multimedia kiosks.

Nearly six hundred Multi.phones are sited across the UK at rail and London Underground stations, shopping centres, airports and motorway service areas.

Similar in appearance to a BT public payphone, the has a 12-inch colour touch-screen. Its home page displays a series of ‘hot buttons’ linked to entertainment, travel, recruitment, shopping and sports information sites. Other website addresses of choice can be accessed via the onscreen keyboard and there is also a search option.

BT claims that the scheme, if rolled-out nationwide, would enable web access for the sixty per cent of Britons currently without a PC or other internet device. Free and unlimited access to the internet and e-mail is available via the kiosks until June 14 when the trial ends.

Says Malcolm Newing, director of BT Payphones: "The is the first in a series of innovations from BT Payphones, which will reinvent the phone box as an indispensable multimedia kiosk for the 21st century … [it] is part of an extensive e-commerce service … aiming quite literally to 'move outside of the box' and develop services and income opportunities beyond the payphone call."

News source: Financial Times