Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Payphones go online
Net access by credit card or BT phone card
By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall
A new generation of payphones incorporating high-speed Internet access has been launched in the UK.
The telecoms giant BT said it was setting up the world's first truly national network of multimedia payphones, with 1,000 due to be in place by March of next year and the first officially opened by the model Caprice at London's Waterloo station on Thursday. Net payphones exist in other countries, with the Netherlands closest to achieving a country-wide network.
Priced and placed for all?
But BT's minimum charge of £1 for 10 minutes' surfing (compared to 10p for off-peak home phone calls and £1 an hour at the easyEverything Internet shop) was criticised at the news conference and the company was asked why it was not siting the terminals on council estates.
"This is the first time that everyone in the UK will have the opportunity to use online services 24 hours a day," said Malcolm Newing, director of BT Payphones.
Type by screen
The Multiphone's features include:
Services to be added later this year include:
Malcolm Newing said the Multiphone would fit in with BT's recent announcement of multimedia kiosks with PhotoMe as there was going to be an explosion of public Internet access terminals. the kiosk would have a seat and could not be placed as easily as the Multiphone , he said.
But perhaps the most impressive feature of the Multiphone is what happens when the screen freezes or Internet speeds slow to a crawl: no matter how hard you hit it with the phone receiver in frustration, the vandal-proof screen will not break!