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ISP BT Launch Next Gen UK WiFi Street Hub Kiosks with 5G Boost

Thursday, June 3rd, 2021 (9:47 am) - Score 4,200
BT Street Hub 2.0 kiosk

Broadband ISP BT has announced that they’re launching the next generation (v2.0) of their smart Street Hub WiFi kiosks (formerly InLinkUK), which will be installed in various urban areas and can now also be used to boost 4G and 5G mobile signals via the inclusion of small cells. You also get ultrafast WiFi, just as before.

Just to recap. The v1.0 smart kiosks were first launched in summer 2017, partly to help replace some of BT’s old phone booths. Since then, over 400 of them have been rolled out across 23 UK cities. All of those claimed to offer 1Gbps capable public WiFi, as well as USB device charging and a range of other digital services to people in the vicinity. A large HD display on the side was also used to carry advertising, which helped to fund the units.

By comparison, the new Street Hub 2.0 units look similar but will introduce several upgraded features, such as a sustainable design, environmental monitoring for local authorities (e.g. air quality and CO2 sensors) and the ability to boost 4G and 5G mobile coverage using small cells. BT are also using a new hardware supplier for these – Trueform Digital – and will continue to partner with technology and software supplier ADXBA, as well as Global, their advertising partner.

As before, the new Street Hubs will also connect to ultrafast free public Wi-Fi, with an outdoor Wi-Fi access point connected directly to their full fibre broadband network, bringing speeds of “up to” 1Gbps to users within 150 metres of the unit. In reality this is still shared capacity, which when combined with the variable nature of WiFi connectivity means that real-world experiences will be fast or ultrafast, but rarely into gigabit territory.

James Browne, Head of Street at BT, said:

“Street Hubs form part of BT’s plan to transform the UK’s streets with a digital communications service designed for the 21st Century. I’m really excited that we’re now evolving the service even further with a newly designed ‘Street Hub 2.0’ unit which is more sustainable, while delivering free public Wi-fi services and improved 4G/5G mobile coverage to local communities.

The free digital services provided by our Street Hub units can play an important role in helping to revive the UK’s high streets following the pandemic. We are working closely with local councils and communities to introduce the new units to more parts of the country, enhancing the UK’s future digital infrastructure, and bringing benefits to residents, businesses and tourists alike.”

The new kiosks won’t be deployed to replace their existing Street Hubs (unless they break), but will instead find a home in new locations. Subject to local planning processes, BT said their ambition is to roll out more than 200 Street Hub 2.0 units to new sites across the UK over the next year.

Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. Connor says:

    That’s good use of already existing infrastructure though I’m surprised there isn’t gonna be a phased upgrade plan since the only area I’ve seen them in was central Birmingham which used to suffer on 4G when it was really busy. Though to be fair I doubt it’s that busy anymore.

  2. Nick Roberts says:

    Mobile phones batteries do have a habit of becoming fully discharged at the most inappropriate moment, so that the sooner these kiosks become as omni-present as the old telephone boxes used to be . . Oublic transport hubs, airports, ferry ports, car parks, motorways, petrol and re-charging stations, high streets and shopping malls, leisure and tourist facilities, village shops, the better.

    Its not jmpossible that a version could be developed to supplement emergency phones on motorways and railway crossings.

    Perhaps these devices will offer an alternative use, vua wi-fi, for still functional 3G phones once the service providers decide to pull 3G.

    And lets hope the kiosks, at first generation, have facilties incorporated for the disabled i.e. visually impaired and hard of hearing, as well as mirroring the free Emergency Service capability if mobiles.

    “You here” and “Nearest Local Service provider” screens would be useful as would an equivalent of the travel planners offered by the likes of TFL, AA, RAC

  3. Bill says:

    I have always wondered who makes the effort to go near a BT kiosk to get internet.

    1. Nick Roberts says:

      How much longer do you think oersonal mobile communication will retain its current pocket brick format ?

      The likelihood is that mobile communication will become wi-fi based strios in clothing etc able to communicate with home hubs and street kiosks and urban mobile towers will disappear.

      These kiosks are just the first evolution

    2. 125us says:

      People who have run out of data or can’t get a usable cellular signal on their phone.

  4. Jamie Simms says:

    The biggest issue I am told with these kiosks is getting the 1Gbps leased lines into them as they are often in the middle of the street in pedestrian areas so no trunking to feed the fibre through so actually becomes a big job if you have to lift 200-500 metres of slabs to install them

    1. Nick Roberts says:

      Its a big job if your horizon is this afternoon…..

      The horizon is being set by the method of finance, not the potential of the technology.

      Funny HS2 is funded by Taxpayer funds (Grant-in-aid from UK Consolidated Fund) guarenteeing delivery (Albeit at, almost certainly, an over-cost) whilst fibre extension is left to the vagueries of the capabilities of a multitude of small companies to raise finance.

      Is the reason that the short-term technology is favoured over fibre the fact that HS2 is an old-fashioned stricture staple which mainly “Taxes” the population for minimum benefit, whilst fibre has the capability to liberate and let people do their own thing.

      No Mrs, ’cause not.

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