British Telecom today unveiled its first public access Internet phone at London’s Waterloo Station, with plans to install 1,000 of the units at stations, airports, motorway service stops and supermarkets by next March.
Similar in size to a BT payphone, the Multiphone incorporates a 12 inch colour touch screen which can be used to access the Internet.
The traditional keypad and keyboard appear as pictures on the screen, which must be touched to type messages or access services.
Customers will encouraged to sign up for BT’s free email service and can access Web sites on a pay as you go basis, using a BT phone card or credit card, although access to pornographic sites will be restricted by firewall technology, according to BT.
The Multiphones will display news, sport, travel and entertainment information and have printing facilities to enable users to print out data.
BT is attempting to position the Multiphone as a bridge between the much cited “information rich” who have ready access to the Internet at home or work and the "information poor" who do not.
"Over 50 million people do not have access to the Internet," BT Payphones chief Malcolm Newing said. "With Multiphone, for the very first time, everybody will have affordable access to an easy to use range of multimedia communications."
Speaking at the launch, Labour MP Ken Livingstone said the Multiphone would do much to banish “the fears and worries people have” about going online.
In the future, BT plans to add digital camera facilities to the phones to enable users to take pictures of themselves and attach them to emails.
An on screen directory enquiry service and A-Z maps will also be added.
BT worked with public access Internet specialist King Products, to develop the phones, which are powered by QNX processor technology and connected to the BT network via ISDN2.
Touch screen technology has been supplied by Microtouch, which specialises in supplying impact resistant and shatterproof screens for vending machines, kiosks and ATMs.
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