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BT brings free gigabit Wi-Fi to London's streets with Street Hub 2.0 rollout

The first of 300 units have been unveiled in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea

BT has begun rolling out the first of its Street Hub 2.0 units in London, with these street-based terminals providing free gigabit Wi-Fi, free phone calls, and fast charging services for smartphones.

The first of BT’s physical kiosk-style units has been erected in Notting Hill Gate and aims to provide consumers and small businesses with a range of digital services to expand connectivity.

This London-based launch will be followed by roughly 300 units set up across sites in Glasgow, Cardiff, Nottingham, Birmingham, Solihull, and Southampton among other UK cities, in the next 12 months.

Users can tap into these hubs to benefit from free gigabit Wi-Fi, fast-charging for smartphones through USB ports, free phone calls, access to charity helplines and map services through integrated tablets. These hubs will also boost local digital infrastructure by including the option to install mini mobile masts to boost 4G and 5G coverage in any given area.

“BT’s Street Hubs ensure that Londoners have access to fast and free Wi-Fi across the capital whilst on the go, they improve mobile signal, and help councils to get vital local information to their residents,” said London’s chief digital officer, Theo Blackwell.

“BT has been supporting the recovery and growth of small businesses throughout the pandemic - and we’re moving up a gear now that lockdown restrictions have lifted,” James Browne, who runs BT’s Street business, added.

“Our new Street Hub units can play a vital role in helping small firms to bounce back – whether that’s through building greater awareness of their business through free advertising, or by rejuvenating the high street by boosting local digital infrastructure.”

The launch of the first hub in Kensington and Chelsea comes alongside research commissioned by BT that reveals two-thirds, 66%, of more than 1,000 small businesses surveyed believe mobile connectivity needs to be improved in their area.

BT’s Street Hub 2.0 units aim to directly address this concern by propagating networking signals in towns and cities.

With many local authorities’ ambitions to become carbon neutral, the kiosks can also be fitted with air quality and carbon dioxide sensors.

BT has also offered £7.5 million of free advertising for local small businesses that can be displayed on screens fitted onto these physical kiosks between now and the end of March 2022.

Each local authority will also benefit from 5% of screen time to promote services in the area, such as food banks, health and social care services or leisure activities.

The first generation of these kiosks was launched in 2017, in part to replace the older telephone booth, with hundreds of physical hubs set up across 23 cities in the UK.

BT revealed that it planned to launch the next generation of these kiosks earlier this year, with all being established in new sites rather than simply replacing the first generation of hubs.

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