Feel Free to Use London's Phone Boxes For Wi-Fi, If You Can Be Bothered

By Jon Partridge on at

In today's society, everyone and their mothers (and their mother's mothers) owns a mobile phone of some sort, making one of the cornerstones of British culture essentially redundant to everyone (apart from the Doctor). So, with these red boxes taking up a bunch of room in the streets of London, why not make some use out of them? Spectrum Interactive is doing exactly that, by offering free access to Wi-Fi hot spots located in various phone boxes dotted around the capital. But there is a catch.

People mean it when they say there isn't really much free in life, and in this case, this free Wi-Fi isn't exactly free either. In exchange for your mobile number and email address, and a download of a coupon for a local store, you can then get access to the wireless waves. But is there really much point? I really don't see myself trading away my personal contact details for something I might only use for five minutes whilst walking to the tube, but even then, the 3G on my phone is more than good enough. It serves it's purpose perfectly. And I don't need any more spam, thanks.

Spectrum hope that local shops will pay for these coupons, which are located on the Wi-Fi sign-in page. In turn, the shops hope that those accessing the Internet via these hot spots see said coupons, put down their devices and make a purchase, therefore funding the whole thing. But again, I really don't see the point. I don't see myself using a large amount of bandwidth that my 3G connection can't handle, and if I'm shopping, I'm not going to be browsing the web. I'm going to be, well, shopping.

The company has rolled out over 1,800 pay-phones with the free wireless attached in areas such as Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road and Knightsbridge, as well as in various boxes around Westminster, Victoria, Mayfair and around the West End. But there also leaves two big questions: what adverts and coupons are going to be attached, and who is it going to be aimed at, as who exactly is going to be using their device whilst shopping? I certainly don't see many people touting their iPads whilst walking down Oxford Street. It might suit tourists coming to the city during the Olympics, but I think I'll just stick to my usual shopping habits rather than being forced coupons down my throat for a service I really don't need. [The Register]

Image credit: Phone box from Shutterstock