And supermodel, Caprice demonstrates how everyone can access the Internet 24-hour-a-day without using a PC!
BT Payphones today launched ‘Multiphone’, the world’s first public phone box to provide 24-hour Internet access-for-all. This means that for the first time, everyone living, working or travelling in the UK will be able to send and receive electronic mail (e-mail), in addition to making telephone calls.
The first BT Multiphone was unveiled at Waterloo station by supermodel Caprice today. During phase one, a further 1,000 will be installed at airports, railway stations, motorway service areas and shopping centres across the UK over the next year.
Malcolm Newing, director, BT Payphones said: "This launch is of major significance. The Multiphone is a fantastic new development that will make the Internet as accessible to the public as the telephone. Multiphone will provide the first countrywide network of multimedia payphones - clearly demonstrating that the phone box of the future is here today and believe me, using a payphone will never be the same again!"
Malcolm continued: "While most people are aware of the Internet and e-mail, this is the first time that everyone in the UK will have the opportunity to use online services 24-hours a day - whether or not they have access to a computer at home, school or in the office. Even better, the touch screen ensures that the Multiphone is easy to use, even by those who have never used a computer before."
The Multiphone looks similar to BT’s existing, familiar public payphones with the addition of a 12-inch, full colour, touch-sensitive screen in the centre. The traditional keypad and keyboard appear as pictures on the screen, which you simply touch to access services or type e-mail messages.
The new phone boxes will also provide users with an exclusive up-to-the-minute news, sport, travel and entertainment service. Much of this information will be free of charge.
New online users will be able to set-up a free personal e-mail address from BT’s Talk 21 service or sign-up with other e-mail providers accessible on the Internet. Websites can be surfed on a pay-as-you-go basis using a BT Phonecard or credit card.
Ken Livingstone, MP said at the launch: "The services that the Multiphone offers will help break down the elitism and social barriers that the information society has started to build-up. While technology has brought huge benefits to businesses and individuals in the UK, these opportunities unfortunately, have not been open to everyone.
"Students with access to a computer and the Internet at home or at school or college have a distinct advantage over those that do not. With 24-hour public access, every student will benefit from this global information source. Corporate UK has a social and economic responsibility to prepare our future workforce, and it appears that BT is taking its responsibility seriously."
Malcolm concluded: "The Multiphone provides the opportunity for a wide range of services to be offered to the public through links to both business and government sites. This initiative complements BT’s strategy for being first with new technologies and creative use of the Internet.
"There is scope for businesses to develop e-commerce opportunities and for local and national government to set up channels to get closer to the public. Multiphone simply reflects and supports the changing public access and communications requirements that people in the UK and Europe have today."
New developments will be added to the Multiphone service later this year, these will include:
- ‘Videophony’ - allows users to see as well as hear the person they are calling. Initially, the Multiphones with videophones will be installed in the Millennium Dome and at selected sites around the country.
- Video e-mail - providing the facility for customers to take a photograph using the Multiphone and send this ‘attached’ to an e-mail.
- Local street guides providing users with a map of their exact location and offering a route planning facility to a specified location.
- A built-in printer enabling information to be printed off immediately.
- Free directory enquiry information on screen.
Security measures have been taken to prevent the Internet access being misused and to protect children from being exposed to dangers such as pornography.
E-mail and Internet calls will be charged at 10p a minute with a minimum charge of £1. Phone calls will be charged at BT’s normal public payphone rates.
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About BT Payphones
More than 96 per cent of BT payphones are in full working order at any one time. More than two million people use a BT payphone every day and the average call lasts two minutes. In 1998 BT Payphones won the prestigious UK Quality Award for Business Excellence. BT Payphones has now entered the International market, managing the public payphones at NS Railways stations together with BT’s Dutch joint venture, Telfort and providing a consultancy and payphone management service for BT’s Joint Venture in Italy, Albacom.
Notes to editors
- Multiphones will initially accept BT Phonecards and credit cards. The option of cash payment will be introduced later this year.
- All interactions on Multiphones except Emergency 999 calls are made using the touch-sensitive screen, including the dialling of phone calls.
- Emergency 999 calls on Multiphones are made by pressing a special quick dial button.
- Multiphones are connected to the BT network via an ISDN2 link. This is used for both voice and data transfer.
- Public payphone calls are charged in 10p units, customers receive 67 seconds of time (equivalent to 9p a minute) for local calls, and 43 seconds (equivalent to 14p a minute) for longer distance regional and national UK calls, at all times.
- An estimated ten million people in the UK now use the Internet.
- BT currently operates a network of 141,000 public payphones across the UK. This represents an increase of 83 per cent since privatisation in 1984.
For further information, visit www.bt.com
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