BT to convert 2,000 payphones into advertising screens

BT is to convert payphones into digital hubs in more than 200 towns and cities across the UK.

The telecoms company has formed a 10-year partnership with outdoor media company Global to upgrade up to 2,000 conventional BT payphones and kiosks into Street Hubs, starting in 2025. Street Hubs are digital units that provide public Wi-Fi and hyper-local advertising — with some also extending EE’s mobile network capability to provide 4G and 5G connectivity.

Global will continue to manage BT’s 959 existing Street Hubs, and BT will continue to provide mobile and Wi-Fi connectivity to the units.

The modern Street Hub 2 units provide secure connectivity at speeds of up to 1Gbps within a 150-metre radius, as well as a dedicated 999 calling button, USBs for free device charging, and touch-screen tablets displaying real-time public information. They also feature large screens to open up digital, street-level advertising for businesses.

“BT’s payphones have long been an iconic feature on the UK’s streets — and with the way we all communicate changing, today’s announcement marks a further step into the future,” said Bas Burger, chief executive of BT’s business unit. “There are already almost 1,000 modern digital Street Hubs bringing communication benefits to local communities across the UK. By bringing together BT’s rock-solid connectivity with Global’s unrivalled expertise in out-of-home advertising, we can almost triple this number over the next decade.”