U.K. incumbent gradually replacing phone boxes with new InLinkUK kiosks.

BT on Tuesday began offering a free, 1-Gbps public WiFi service in London, having replaced some of its ageing phone boxes with new high-speed Internet kiosks.

The service, called InLinkUK, is funded by advertising displayed on the kiosk’s two 55-inch screens. Available initially on Camden High Street, BT plans to deploy hundreds of these kiosks – or InLinks to give them their official name – across London and in major U.K. cities throughout the rest of this year. As well as ads, InLinks can also provide local information, such as weather and transport updates.

In addition to WiFi, people can use InLinksUK to make free calls to U.K. landlines and mobile phones, charge their device, and access maps and other local and national directory services, including the BT Phone Book.

"This is the phone box of the future. InLinkUK from BT brings the payphone up-to-date and gives people the services they need and use every day in the 21st century – and the bonus is it’s all for free," said Gerry McQuade, CEO of BT Wholesale and Ventures.

The service, first unveiled in October 2016, is the result of a partnership between BT, U.K. outdoor advertising company Primesight, and digital media specialist Intersection, which launched a similar scheme in New York, called LinkNYC.

Since launching in New York City in January last year, 1.8 million people have registered to use LinkNYC.

"As we’ve seen in New York City with LinkNYC, providing free high-speed WiFi access, real-time information, engaging content, and digital services on city streets can valuably enrich people’s experiences of a city," said Ari Buchalter, CEO of Intersection.

Further down the line, InLinks could be equipped with sensors and used to provide IoT services.

"InLinks introduce the technology we need to create a better urban environment," said Matt Bird, general manager, InLinkUK. "InLinks in the future will feature sensors to capture real-time environmental data, such as pollution and traffic conditions, never seen before in the U.K. at such a micro level."