Phone Boxes are Stealth Advertising Boards Now, Complain Powerless Councils

By Gary Cutlack on at

Councils across the country are battling a new wave of unstoppable advertising banner spaces that masquerade as telephone boxes.

Due to the way Ofcom handles the licensing of public phone boxes, providers don't need to acquire full planning permission before sticking them in public places once they have the nod from Ofcom, making it hard for councils to say no to new phone boxes unless they object to them over location or design issues.

London's Westminster Council has put in such objections to recent plans for 128 new boxes to be installed in the ram-packed bit of London, as it thinks that providers, including Maximus Networks, are putting outdated, non-Wi-Fi units in places where people congregate in order to sell ad space on them rather than provide a useful service. Councillor Daniel Astaire said companies are trying to "make a quick buck" by exploiting the rules to stick large blank fascias in iconic tourist hotspots in the centre of London.

Maximus denies this, of course, saying it wants to build a world class network of dumb phones no one really needs any more. [BBC]


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