The era of smartphones rendered traditional telephone booths as obsolete, reducing Britain's red telephone boxes as part of history. Now, though, these iconic kiosks are enjoying a new lease on life and are serving more than just a reminder that smartphones haven't always existed.
The red telephone boxes still litter the streets throughout the UK but remained largely unused ever since smartphones kicked in. The situation's changed, however, when the British Telecom company launched two alternative schemes to keep the iconic kiosks from being scrapped for good. BT offered the solutions after the company deemed the unused red telephone boxes as unprofitable.
The first solution is the "adopt-a-kiosk" scheme that allows the red telephone boxes to be bought for £1 (less than $2). The empty and run down kiosks began picking up again after locals remodeled them into funky mercantile kiosks, cafes, internet shops, micro-libraries and workstations.
That's how the Red Kiosk Company, started by Edward Ottewell and Steve Beeken, used the red telephone boxes for selling sunglasses and hats. They even helped London-based Umar Khalid transform one into a café known as Kape Barako, according to CNN.
A community in southeast London also transformed a Lewisham phone box into the Lewisham Micro Library just as the Pod Works saw an opportunity out of the "derelict" phone boxes. The company remodeled the kiosks and turned them into mini workstations outfitted with a printer, scanner, WiFi, VOIP, power bank of plugs and heater/air conditioning.
BT offered the second scheme "sponsor-a-kiosk" which means the community will be charged an annual fee of £500 to keep the kiosks running and well-maintained. A BT spokesman told The Telegraph that many local authorities wanted to keep the red telephone boxes "minus the telephone equipment - for aesthetic or heritage reasons."
BT also partnered with LinkUK for the Links kiosk to provide ultrafast free Wi-Fi in public areas. This means they will roll out sleek and modern versions of the kiosks which the company pitched as the evolution of Britain's red telephone boxes.