Residents, shoppers, tourists and visitors to Aberdeen will now be able to enjoy fast free wi-fi (speeds of up to one gigabit per second), free calls to landlines and mobiles, free mobile charging points plus a range of services, including local council and community information.
It’s expected that BT’s free InLink service will generate £1.7 million in city investment over the next ten years. The city will now join the ranks of Glasgow, London, and Cardiff which already offer these free services, at present, there are over 400 InLink units active across the UK.
Two of the InLink units have been introduced into Aberdeen’s city centre at Upperkirkgate and Palmerston Road. A further eight activations are expected in the coming weeks, including Union Street and George Street.
This new cutting edge technology will replace 23 existing payphones, which will free up more space on pavements, as on average, one unit replaces two BT payphones.
Jenny Laing, co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “Aberdeen continues to build its reputation as a destination for business and tourism. It’s great to see another development for local people, visitors and businesses which supports our digital ambitions. Supporting our city centre with fast wi-fi and other services will help increase footfall, and aid retail and economic growth as a result.”
Innes Walker, city centre manager for Aberdeen Inspired, said: “The addition of InLink devices to the city centre will help visitors recognise Aberdeen as a modern, forward-looking, technologically advanced city, supporting the tourist and retail economy and helping to attract investment.
“It is a great enhancement and one that Aberdeen inspired, along with Aberdeen City Council, have worked closely with BT on. By providing facilities for people to make free calls, access free wi-fi and charge their phones, the InLink service will add much to our city.”
The InLink service is funded by advertising revenue and therefore will not cost any additional money to the taxpayer and local councils. They will have encrypted wi-fi, an interactive map to help users get from A to B easily, an emergency 999 call button, and an option to add air quality monitors to enable local government to build a better sustainable air strategy.
They are designed to be wheelchair accessible and provide additional features for those who have sight and visual impairments. The InLink also offers a one-touch lifeline to four national charities, which provides free calls to Childline, End Youth Homelessness, Runaway Helpline, and Samaritans.
David Wallace, BT Director for public sector in Scotland and chair of the BT Scotland board, said: “At BT, inclusive services are really important to us and we want everyone to be able to make the most of digital opportunities. The new InLink service from BT will benefit all of those who live, work and visit Aberdeen.
“We welcome the support from Aberdeen City Council and Aberdeen Inspired in helping us deliver this new service. Across the UK, InLink is already transforming high streets, removing unwanted payphones and giving streets a modern facelift with our compact and free of charge wi-fi and digital services.”
Matt Bird, General Manager of InLinkUK, said: “We are keen to continue our very successful roll out of the InLink from BT service to benefit consumers in Aberdeen. We want to support consumers’ digital innovation ambitions by offering city workers, shoppers and tourists free digital services and help to create a Smart city in Aberdeen.”