Readers contribution – BT Internet kiosks

After last weeks article relating to Internet access whilst on the move, I saw it fit to publish a letter submitted by one of my readers, Ian MacMillan who discusses the new BT Internet kiosks and call boxes that are popping up around the country.They offer you full Internet and E-mail access in the high street with additional facilities such as text messaging and obviously the ability to use it as a standard payphone.

Last December I wrote to you about the new phone boxes that BT were introducing in Torbay, which could send e-mails and text messages as well as making ordinary phone calls.

Since then, there have been some new developments in this area as BT is in the process of rolling out new Internet kiosks, which offer full Internet access.At the time of writing there are eight of these that I know about within the Torbay area.The locations are as follows:

Torquay, bottom of Market Street

Torquay, Fleet Walk, opposite Burger King

Torquay, Harbourside, opposite Hoopers

Paignton, outside main Post Office

Paignton, outside Tesco

Paignton, opposite Apollo Cinema

Torquay, Lymington Road, opposite library.

Totnes, High Street.

The Internet kiosks contain a colour monitor, a QWERTY keyboard and a tracker ball instead of a mouse.The kiosks have an “Ask Jeeves” screen and an easy access screen for Hotmail, but a full World Wide Web address can be entered manually.The kiosks can also send text messages and make ordinary phone calls.Five minutes of surfing costs 50p and as well as accepting coins, the kiosks accept all standard credit cards.The kiosks were installed around August this year, so they have not been in place for long.

The Internet kiosks are part of a strategy to lure people back to phone boxes, as it is well known that business in BT’s phone box division has fallen considerably in the past two years due to the increase in mobile phone use.

The following link (http://www.payphones.bt.com/2001/news/releases/2001/nr1016.html) gives a picture of the unit inside the kiosks, and further details about future plans for these machines; apparently up to 28,000 of these are to be installed over the next five years.I had a go in one of these boxes and found it very easy to use, but it was slightly cramped inside due to the protrusion of the keyboard at the bottom of the unit.

For more information on this type of kiosk, it is possible to contact multimedia@bt.com.As I said in the previous letter, I am not in the business of doing free publicity for BT but it is interesting to know that these kiosks are now on line in Torbay.

Ian MacMillan, Paignton.

Many thanks, Ian for that positive contribution towards the column.I too have been inside one of these boxes and my main concern with BTs strategy is how well these boxes will be able to cope with the rapidly changing technology that’s used on the Internet as well as the possibility of vandalism.It isn’t an unusual site to see a smashed up phone box around Torbay and I personally am quite surprised that a unit of such value hasn’t yet also been vandalised by someone.

I would also like to see how these kiosks keep up when the technology in mobile phones matures such as when advances such as 3G (high speed mobile Internet) establish themselves.This technology should enable you eventually have easy and cheap access to the Internet and E-mail on your mobile phone; it would be a shame if these kiosks suffered the same demise as their now slightly obsolete predecessors.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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