Birmingham becomes first city in the Midlands to benefit from free ultrafast wi-fi and phone calls
Birmingham has become the first city in the Midlands to benefit from the free InLinkUK from BT service, which already has over 200,000 subscribers across the UK. It offers the UK’s fastest free public wi-fi plus a range of digital services, including local council and community information.
The first five of the seven fully-accessible InLinks planned for the city, have already gone live in Birmingham city centre, in key locations including Bull Street and Colmore Row, providing ultrafast wi-fi speeds of up to one gigabit per second (1Gbps), the fastest free public wi-fi service available in the UK. Further locations in the city, including High Street and Colmore Circus Queensway, are expected to join them in the coming weeks.
The InLinks also provide free phone calls to UK landlines and mobiles, rapid mobile device charging, the BT Phone Book app, as well as easy access to charity helplines. Birmingham joins London, Southampton, Leeds, Glasgow, Swansea, Sheffield, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Manchester as the latest city to benefit from the new service.
InLinks mean more space on pavements, as on average, each InLink replaces two BT payphones, with 14set to be removed in Birmingham. BT’s iconic red phone boxes will remain. The project has so far seen 245m2 of pavement space given back to communities.
As the second largest city in the UK, Birmingham is a key hub of economic activity, the second largest in the UK after London and home to six universities. This new communications service in the heart of the city will help cement Birmingham as one of the UK’s most digitally connected cities.
Birmingham City Council and the local community are also benefiting from the digital displays on the InLinks that display real-time information, including the weather forecast and other local information. Each InLink provides more than 1,000 hours of local messaging a year, acting as a community notice board for the local area. These services are provided to the community at no public cost, as the project is funded by advertising revenue.
Giles Ellerton, BT regional director for the Midlands, said: “Today’s launch in Birmingham brings the fastest free public wi-fi in the UK to Birmingham’s city centre. Residents and visitors alike are set to benefit from these new services, where they can make calls for free, access local information and even charge their phone when out and about.”
Matt Bird, general manager for InLinkUK, added: “Birmingham joins our network at a time of rapid growth and we’re excited that we have such a key UK city join us on this journey to creating smart communities, supporting their digital innovation ambitions. With Birmingham being such a central hub of activity for workers, tourists and residents alike, the range of free digital services provided by the InLinks is a great asset.”
The UK rollout has so far seen more than 260InLinks installed in ten UK cities, most recently in Manchester, with hundreds more to be installed in major towns and cities across the UK. Since the first InLink was installed in June last year, more than 183,000 people have subscribed to the service’s free wi-fi, using enough data to download the equivalent of over 34.1 million songs. TheInLinks have also saved people more than £830,000 in free calls, with 50,000 calls being made on average every week across the UK.
The InLinkUK from BT service is dedicated to providing all-inclusive digital services, one of which is their charity icon on the tablet. A free one-touch lifeline to four national charities, which provides free calls to Childline, End Youth Homelessness, Runaway Helpline and Samaritans. The InLinks are also accessible, offering additional digital services, including for those who have sight and visual impairments.
InLinkUK from BT is a partnership between BT and tech start up InLinkUK.