New British payphones to offer Internet access

British telecom giants Marconi and BT unveiled plans on Wednesday to install a network of 28,000 Internet-ready payphones across Britain.

The companies said they were to introduce the new phones, which would offer full online access and traditional voice services, from next April and roll them out over five years.

BT already has about 500 multimedia payphones in use, but these are a different design and do not offer as many services.

Some 3,000 new terminals will be put in place in the first year in busy, well-protected locations such as train stations and airports. But BT said the terminals were "robust enough" to allow them to be installed in high street phone boxes as well.

Internet access will cost 50 pence (70 cents) for the first five minutes and 10 pence per minute thereafter.

BT said the phones "could realize 56 million hits a week." That is equivalent to each of the 28,000 phones being used 2,000 times per week, or once every five minutes day and night.

News source: Reuters

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