BT drops some more ‘high-tech digital street units’ in Newcastle

BT newcastle street hub

Seven of UK telco group BT’s Street Hub 2.0 units have been installed in Newcastle, dishing out WiFi, free emergency calls, directions if you are lost, and device charging.

Street Hubs are presented as more modern alternative to traditional payphones and as well as providing relief for those lost or lacking in battery or signal, have the capacity to be fitted with 4G and 5G cells.

Seven of these Swiss army knifes of digital street furniture were switched on today at sites across Newcastle including streets in Byker, Benton, Heaton and Haymarket, and BT is throwing in £7.5 million of outdoor advertising space to small businesses across the UK as part of the rollout of them across the rest of the country.

Newcastle based Bud Couriers won a competition to land some of this free advertising as part of the introduction. James Tyer, who works there, said: “The BT Street Hubs have been a blessing for my small business. This month, with the introduction of the clean air zone in Newcastle city centre, these adverts are positioned perfectly to reach those affected by the issue. Using these boards, we are able to showcase our role as an authority in Newcastle’s urban sustainable logistics.”

Michael Smy, Head of Street at BT added: “Street Hubs provide communities with the improved WiFi and mobile connectivity that is now such a central part of everyday life. Bringing the Hubs to Newcastle not only allows us to provide the same benefits as traditional payphones, but also offer enhanced and future-proofed technology for the future. Gifting free advertising to small businesses in the city also means we are able to play our part in supporting its economy.”

BT intends to sprinkle more of these Street Hub units across other UK cities going forward.

The first of the Street Hub 2.0 units went live in London back in 2021, which is when the emphasis on making them an advertising platform kicked in. While of course the messaging with regards to that is leading on the free ads its dolling out to local firms, who no doubt are happy about receiving it, presumably the long term point of all that is revenue generation.

How popular/wise getting your phone out in busy city centres and plugging it on one of these sites remains to be seen, but the other most useful tenet of the whole operation would seem to be the ability to house small cells to boost 5G connections in congested areas.

This ties in with news in June that BT’s mobile arm EE has installed 600 street level mobile small cell sites in the UK, which can be plonked onto these digital outposts as well as lampposts and other such street furniture.


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